The Czech coalition government on Wednesday unanimously approved the 2012 state budget, with a deficit projected at 105 billion crowns. The proposed budget draft reckons with revenues of 1,084 billion crowns and expenditures of 1,189 billion crowns. The Transport Ministry received an additional four billion crowns for the State Transport Infrastructure Fund, half of what it had originally requested. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has not ruled out that the budget may have to be revised view of lower economic growth forecasts.
Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek is reported to have slapped a youth who insulted him outside the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday evening. The finance minister later confirmed the incident, saying that as he was approaching the house the young man shouted insults at him saying he was a thief and would hang. Mr. Kalousek said he could not let the incident pass and had given the young man his deserts. The finance minister said he hoped the youth would benefit from the lecture.
The Czech government will take into account the interests of small towns and villages in reaching agreement on an amendment to the law on budgetary tax redistribution, Prime Minister Petr Nečas assured the mayors of over 1,000 smaller towns who demonstrated outside the Office of the Government on Wednesday. The mayors came to show their support for a draft amendment on tax redistribution prepared by the Finance Ministry, but criticized by the prime minister’s Civic Democratic Party.
The proposal would raise tax-based revenues for the 6 000 or so small towns and villages by a total of 13.5 billion crowns. Municipalities with 2000 to 10,000 inhabitants would profit most from the change. At the same time it would strip the four biggest cities – Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Plzen – of a total of some five billion crowns for the benefit of smaller municipalities. The prime minister said his party was ready for a compromise that would ensure that large cities would not get more than three-times the amount given to small municipalities in the redistribution of tax yields.
The head of the country’s elite organized crime squad Robert Šlachta is in trouble for allegedly giving a suspect advance warning of his planned arrest. The suspect formerly worked for the police force in a subordinate position to the police chief. Mr. Šlachta has rejected the accusation, claiming it is an attempt to discredit him. A police inspection is investigating the case.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has cancelled seven projects launched by his predecessor that cost the ministry 128 million crowns. Interior Ministry spokesman Pavel Novák told the daily Lidové Noviny that the programmes, which were mostly for training clerks or restricting administration, were scrapped based on a detailed analysis of their sustainability. The minister himself told the paper the programmes were “absolutely worthless”. Former interior minister Radek John, who launched the projects with EU funding but spent considerable resources on their preparation, criticised the decision and said he would be seeking an explanation. The Interior Ministry anticipates a budget of 700 million crowns less in 2012 and its operational expenses have been a frequent cause of concern this year.
Petr Dvořák, the former head of commercial TV Nova, has been elected the new executive director of Czech Public Television. Mr. Dvořák, a hot favourite from the first round, won twelve votes from the 15 member Czech radio and TV council. Chairman Milan Uhde said Dvorak had presented an impressive policy concept and was clearly the best candidate. In his analysis of Czech Television’s performance Mr. Dvořák criticized the work of the news and current affairs departments, said public television was bogged down in a production crisis and stressed the need for more educational programmes for children. He is to take up his post on October 1st.
A Prague district court on Wednesday handed the head of the Czech Association of Midwives Ivana Konigsmarkova a two year suspended sentence for inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence. The midwife assisted a difficult home birth which lasted for the better part of three days and resulted in the child suffering severe brain damage. Doctors said later that with proper hospital care the mother could have delivered a perfectly healthy baby. They blamed the midwife for failing to assess the situation correctly and call for a doctor and ambulance.
A financial audit at the Education Ministry for 2010 has revealed mistakes in accounting to the tune of 5.7 billion crowns. The Audit Office said in its report that the mistakes were most likely the result of chaos in accounting following the introduction of a new system. The biggest single missing sum of 1.7 billion was lent to Masaryk University in Brno for the construction of a new campus but was not entered in the ministry’s accounting books. Other large transfers of money were also incorrectly registered.
A twenty-two year old hunter died in what investigators believe to have been a freak accident. The hunter had wondered away from his two colleagues to stalk a deer, and was later found dead lying next to the slain animal. He appears to have shot himself in the head while re-loading or been killed by a ricocheting bullet.
Two Czechs who attempted to cross the US border illegally have been sentenced to 77 days in prison and fined 120 dollars. A third companion who had a travel permit but broke the law in assisting them is still awaiting his verdict. The man and woman, a married couple, had been in the States previously and had been evicted. They tried to cross the border illegally on their bikes while on a visit to the International Peace Garden. All three were apprehended by border guards.
The coming days should be sunny to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.