Daily news summary News

01-11-2005

Parliament approves tax cuts

The lower house of Parliament has approved a series of tax cuts which will primarily benefit people whose monthly income is below 30 thousand crowns. The bill was approved unanimously, although the opposition Civic Democrats criticized the ruling coalition for not effecting tax cuts which would benefit higher income groups as well. Finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the measure would affect 90 percent of all tax payers and would reduce income into state coffers by an estimated ten billion crowns. Approximately four million people who make under 30 thousand crowns a month would save around four thousand crowns per year, higher income groups are expected to save less money. The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate.

Deputy health minister confirms he will give up Doctors' Association post

Deputy Health Minister David Rath has confirmed a decision to step down as the head of the Czech Doctors' Association, an announcement made on a commercial radio station Tuesday morning. His decision will take effect on November 2nd. Until now, Mr Rath's position as head of the Doctors' Association has been a major hurdle preventing his being named health minister. President Klaus twice refused to name Mr Rath to the post, on the grounds his naming would be a clear conflict of interest.

Applicants for a firearm license should undergo psychological tests

Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan wants all applicants for a firearm license to undergo obligatory psychological tests, which should be repeated every five years. According to the daily Pravo, the interior minister is planning to tighten the procedure of issuing firearm licences in the Czech Republic. At present Czechs who want to possess a firearm legally are only required to undergo a medical check-up, during which a GP decides whether or not the applicant needs to undergo psychological tests as well. The move comes shortly after the police arrested a man who shot dead three people in various parts of the country with no apparent motive.

Code of ethics meets with opposition

The chairman of the Lower House Lubomir Zaoralek on Tuesday unveiled a deputies' Code of Ethics to the assembly but was challenged by senior members of the opposition Civic Democratic Party who said the move was an empty gesture and Zaoralek himself was untrustworthy. The proposed code is meant to set an ethical framework for relations between politicians and lobbyists, the acceptance of gifts by public figures and the practice of hiring family members as assistants. The Civic Democrats said they were willing to engage in a serious debate only if Mr. Zaoralek defended his own reputation first, apologized to the public for "his excessive use of government helicopters" and explained how he had hired his own assistants.

End-of-year deadline for remaining restitution claims

People who have unresolved restitution claims to land or property have until the end of this year to file their claims. The opposition Civic Democrats on Tuesday failed to extend the restitution deadline by another four years, largely due to opposition from the Social Democrats and the Communists. The extension by four years was part of a proposed amendment to the law on land.

Social Democrats call fugitive billionaire a "liar"

Senior officials from the ruling Social Democratic Party have called fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir a liar and coward for his claim that he had lent the party 60 million crowns (roughly 2.4 million US dollars) in return for a promise to help him obtain ownership of a state company. They also dared Mr Krejcir to file a libel suit in the Czech Republic. The Social Democrats have taken the view that Mr Krejcir aimed to intentionally harm their reputation, and coordinated their response. Krejcir who fled to the Seychelles in June is wanted for conspiracy to murder, extensive fraud and money forgery. Extradition efforts floundered after it became clear Mr Krejcir - and his family - had obtained citizenship in the Seychelles a few years ago.

New on-line daily

The first Czech on-line daily without a paper edition was launched on Tuesday. Aktualne.cz aspires to become a leader in the sector. Its founders believe that the initial investment of 35 million crowns /1.41 million dollars/ will be recouped within a year, with 90 percent of the magazine's revenues coming from advertising.

Weather:

Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius.

01-11-2005