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President vetoes VAT bill

President Klaus has vetoed a bill on value added tax and a bill on real estate tax, which are a crucial part of the government's fiscal reforms. The country needs the bills to be approved and come into force before its accession to the EU in May. The president's spokesman said Mr. Klaus considered both bills to be a bad mixture of measures that would have serious consequences for Czech citizens and businesses. The finance ministry has refused to comment on the President's decision, saying that it counted on Parliament to overturn the Presidential veto in time for the laws to take effect on May 1st.

Constitutional Court needs more judges

Senator Richard Falbr has stressed the need to fill the posts of all 15 Constitutional court judges. He said the country was experiencing a drawn-out constitutional crisis as the Constitutional Court was paralyzed by the vacancies. The controversy between President Klaus, whose task it is to nominate constitutional court judges, and the Senate, which must approve them, exploded with full force on Thursday when one of the senators accused the President of treason for his failure to produce what he called "acceptable nominees". This happened after the Senate rejected yet another candidate -Milan Gavlas - on the grounds that he had a narrow area of expertise and had spent 23 years in the communist party. Senator Falbr on Friday attempted to play down the controversy, saying that he considered the accusation of treason foolish and inappropriate and could understand the President's anger in response to the news. He said the President's next nominee Stanislav Balik was a good choice and would probably gain approval. Four out of fifteen posts of Constitutional court judges remain to be filled.

School leavers need jobs

The government is preparing some form of financial relief for companies willing to employ school leavers. The measure is aimed at reducing unemployment among school graduates who are repeatedly turned away for lack of work experience. The plan is to relieve companies of the obligation to pay insurance for these employees for a certain time period. When school graduates are on the dole their insurance gets paid by the state anyway and if firms took them on without this obligation for a time then they could gain the experience which is considered crucial and break the vicious circle many of them are in.

Senate approves Natura areas

The Senate has approved a draft amendment to the nature and landscape protection bill which provides for the creation of some 40 European Natura-type protected areas. The amendment, which the Czech Republic has been asked to pass by the European Union before its accession on May 1, provides mainly for the declaration of "bird reserves" where the protection of endangered bird species would be ensured. The opposition Civic Democrats are opposed to the amendment saying that it restricts the rights of land owners. The Natura 2000 project aims to create a continuous European environmental system of specially protected areas with endangered species of birds and protected animals, plants and habitats.


Saturday is expected to be sunny to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.