Prime Minister, and Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas on Tuesday sacked Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa, from the same party. Mr Fuksa, who was surprised at the news, told reporters the prime minister let him know the move was triggered by “political reasons”; PM Nečas however later expressed “long-term” dissatisfaction with Mr Fuksa’s performance at the ministry. Most commentators believe his sacking is related to infighting within the Civic Democrat party. Mr Fuksa is an ally of Petr Tluchoř, the main opponent to Petr Nečas inside the Civic Democrats.
Ivan Fuksa assumed office in July 2010, along with other ministers of the Czech centre-right government. He came under criticism over a dubious logging tender; he also prominently appeared in a video clip, sponsored by the ministry, promoting Czech pork.
After meeting with the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in Prague on Tuesday, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas criticized those EU member states that prevent Bulgaria’s from entering the Schengen zone of free movement. Mr Nečas said it was unfair not let Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen zone in spite of the fact the two countries met all the requirements. The move was however opposed by Finland and the Netherlands.
The public’s trust in President Václav Klaus dropped by 11 percent since last moth, suggests a new poll by the CVVM agency released on Tuesday. In spite of the decrease, President Klaus remains the country’s most trusted politician, with 51 percent of approval rating. He is followed by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, with 41 percent, the chief justice of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychteský with 40 percent, and the head of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, with 36 percent.
Czechs have shown great interest in the pilot emissions of government bonds, designed for individual investors. Preliminary figures show that within the first two days the bonds went on sale, orders were placed for bonds worth of 8.8 billion crowns of the total volume of ten billion. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Tuesday the interest exceeded his expectations and that he would up the volume of the bonds Czech and foreign citizens can place orders for the bonds with the ČSOB, Česká spořitelna and Komerční banka banks; the bonds are available in maturity of one and five years with yields of two and over three percent, respectively. The first figures show, however, that rather than households, the bonds sold well with investors and NGOs.
The Czech Health Ministry on Tuesday joined the board of directors of the public health insurer, VZP, and called on the firm’s management to put the project of electronic health cards on hold. The ministry wants to carry out an audit in the insurance company and review all contracts related to the projects before it decides on its future. A spokesman for the ministry said it had to be clear the project was going to save money and improve the quality of health care; otherwise, the project must be scrapped. The ministry has so far spent around one billion crowns on the project which provided on-line health cards to around 2.5 million Czech patients.
The Czech government has earmarked 300 million crowns in incentives for foreign film productions in 2012, the daily E15 reported on Tuesday, quoting an official from the country’s Culture Ministry. Film producers will be able to apply for tax breaks covering up to 20 percent of their production costs.
The incentives programme for foreign film production in the Czech Republic was approved by the European Commission in June 2010; the country is one of 12 EU member states to qualify. Similar incentives programmes exist in Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland and six other European countries where support varies between 15 and 28 percent of total film budgets. Ahead of the Culture Ministry’s approval for next year, several major productions expressed an interest in shooting in the Czech Republic.
Czech nuclear experts have been unable to determine the origin of a radioactive tube that was found last week at a playground in Prague, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. Miroslav Hrehor from the Czech Nuclear Research Institute told the paper that the tiny metal rod, two centimetres by two millimetres in size, had no serial number or any other identifying features.
The radioactive object was discovered last week at a playground in the Prague district of Podolí, buried just below the surface. A man came across increased radioactivity in the area thanks to his watch fitted with a Geiger counter. Experts said the tube, which was probably used in treating cancer in the 1950s, posed no serious threat.
The Czech Republic ranks sixths within the EU in terms of development aid transparency, a review by the Prague-based NGO Czech Forum for Development Cooperation said on Tuesday. The group said the country in 2010 adopted a series of steps which made the process of providing financial aid to developing countries more transparent. However, the authorities should consider what forms of aid are best suited for individual recipients as the Czech Republic provided financial to countries with high levels of corruption such as Afghanistan and Mongolia.
In 2009, the Czech Republic provided 4.08 billion crowns, or 216 million US dollars, worth of foreign aid which amounted to 0.12 percent of its GDP. European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs recently suggested the Czech Republic increase its development aid; the Czech government however is unlikely to up the aid due to austerity measures.
An appellate court in Olomouc, in the east of the country, on Tuesday confirmed a sentence of nine years in prison for a 17-year-old teenager who last year stabbed three children in the streets of Ostrava. The teenager randomly attacked the children, aged nine, thirteen and fourteen, after his girlfriend split up with him. The court said he had the intention to kill and none of the children died only because a happy coincidence and fast medical treatment.
A 32-year-old miner was killed by a rockburst in the Karviná mine in northern Moravia in the early hours of Tuesday night, the fifth deadly mining accident in the area this year. The accident occurred just after midnight some 980 metres below the surface, a spokesman for the mining company said, adding the rockburst was not caused by a tremor or a gas explosion. The cause of the incident is now being investigated by the authorities.
The next few days will be mostly sunny with occasional morning fog. Daytime highs should range between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.