The cabinet has said the higher band of VAT will be reduced from 22 to 19 percent. The change will come into effect on May 1st, when the Czech Republic joins the European Union. The lower band will remain unchanged at 5 percent, although some items will be moved to the higher band. The announcement was made after seven hours of talks on Sunday between representatives of the ruling coalition. The changes mean that items such as cars, electronic goods, clothes and telecommunications should be cheaper from May 1st.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach has said any further reduction of sick pay would be unacceptable. Under planned public finance reforms discussed by the cabinet on Sunday sick pay would amount to 35 percent of an employee's salary for the first three days and 70 percent thereafter. Under the new system employees would only receive sick pay for working days, and not weekends. However Mr Skromach denied claims that sick pay would be withdrawn altogether for the first three days of illness.
Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas has said Czech farmers could be as successful as their Greek counterparts in drawing funds from the European Union. Speaking during a visit to Greece, Mr Palas said Czech farmers could learn from the experience of Greece in winning agricultural subsidies from the EU.
A suspected criminal escaped from a police van on Friday evening as he was being transported to a police station for questioning. The 37-year-old man, who was wearing handcuffs, managed to make his escape as the vehicle stopped briefly in a street in Prague 4. Police throughout Prague have launched a search for the man. A spokesman for the police said it would now be decided whether the officers escorting the suspect would be disciplined for allowing him to escape.
A 58-year-old woman from a village near Olomouc was killed on Saturday as a group of people were cutting down a tree. Police have launched an investigation into the accident.
The Austrian news agency has reported that a female Czech lorry driver became involved in a fight with a Portuguese lorry driver on Friday on Austria's A8 motorway. The two drivers were apparently wrestling for control of the road by successively overtaking each other. The vehicles then stopped and the drivers began fighting. The Portuguese driver is reported to have hit the Czech driver over the head with an iron bar. She retaliated by spraying him in the face with pepper spray. He was later arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm.
Monday will be a mild and cloudy day, with temperatures ranging from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. Showers are forecast throughout the country.
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