Social Democrat deputy Jan Kavan has said he is ready to support the new government of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek in a May 13 confidence vote. Mr Kavan, a former Foreign Minister, was among five Social Democrat MPs who had threatened in recent days to vote against the new government. The group also included the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Vladimir Lastuvka, who, like Jan Kavan, has been calling for greater party influence in the sphere of foreign policy. A deal has been reached within the ruling coalition that will allow the party to choose who will fill the post of the first deputy foreign minister. With Mr Kavan on board, it now seems likely that the prime minister will have the support of all 70 Social Democrat MPs in the upcoming confidence vote.
President Vaclav Klaus has granted another 13 pardons, bringing to 70 the total number of pardons Mr Klaus has issued since granted since taking office in March 2003. Most were granted for "humanitarian" reasons, such as keeping families together or to allow for the care of sick relatives. Among those pardoned this week are a Croatian businessman who was sentenced to several years in prison in the 1970s and expelled from the former Czechoslovakia for the "irregular" import of three passenger cars; several businessmen who have already served much or all or their sentences for fraud; and a woman who had allowed illegal drugs to be produced in her home but has since beaten her own addiction and has a one-year-old child.
The president of the American-Austrian firm Steyer-Daimler-Puch has said that if successful in a bid to sell their Pandur armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to the Czech Republic, the production of the APCs would take place in Czech factories. Steyr-Daimler-Puch had announced on Monday its participation in the tender for the purchase of up to 234 armoured personnel carriers for the Czech military. Patria of Finland and the Singapore-Irish concern Tarrex will probably also compete in the tender, which was announced in April. The purchase of APCs looks likely to become the largest contract in the history of the Czech military, costing about 20 billion crowns, or roughly $850 million dollars.
The lower house of Parliament on Tuesday passed a number of laws directly affecting most businesses operating in the Czech Republic. MPs overruled the Senate by keeping in place a ban on the practice of stringing temporary contracts together to avoid hiring full "employees" and so avoiding payroll taxes. But deputies voted to soften rules related to the so-called "Svarc system". Under the law, a construction firm, for example, is free to hire a carpenter to work at home using his own tools on a trade license, but the firm cannot hire the carpenter on his trade license who will then come to work with the firm's tools. Companies can save as much as 100,000 crowns per year per employee, the equivalent to about $4,000 per head.
Parliament also gave final approval on Tuesday to a law for standardizing and speeding up the process of making entries in the commercial registry. If the process takes longer than five days, the entries will now become automatic. MPs also passed a proposal to introduce cash registers with fiscal memory for entrepreneurs as of January 2007. The idea is to ensure that taxes are paid on all cash transactions. Deputies also approved a "squeeze-out" provision that allows owners of 90 percent or more of stock in a company to force small shareholders to sell their stakes, at a price determined by an appraiser appointed by the majority owner.
Partly cloudy skies and occasional light rain is expected throughout the remainder of the week. Daytime temperatures aren't expected to go above 16 degrees Celsius.
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