The outgoing Czech interim government on Wednesday approved a civil
service bill which overhauls the rules for the employment of public
officials, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said. If passed by Parliament, the
legislation will protect officials from the influence of elected
politicians. Under the bill, government ministers would be exempt from
legislation preventing former collaborators of the communist secret police,
StB, from holding high public posts. It will also establish the position of
the director general of public administration who will be appointed by the
president. The introduction of the civil service act would cost the state
budget around six billion crowns, according to the government.
The passing of the bill in a first round of debate in the lower house is a condition set by President Miloš Zeman for appointing ANO leader Andrej Babiš finance minister; Mr Babiš faces allegations he worked for the StB in the 1980s. MPs are set to discuss the legislation next week.
The Social Democrats are looking for a new candidate for labour and social affairs minister after their nominee for the post, Petr Krčál withdrew over family reasons. Party leaders met on Wednesday to discuss the nominations; deputy party chair Lubomír Zaorálek told reporters after the meeting that most candidates for the post are women. The news agency ČTK reported that Zlín regional councillor Taťána Valentová Nersesjan, former central Bohemian councillor Zuzana Jentschke Stöcklová and the party’s human rights and family policy expert Michaela Marksová Tominová were among the candidates.
The Social Democrats’ nominee for minister of labour and social affairs, Petr Krčál, has rejected the possibility of a cabinet post. Mr. Krčál said he and his family had been shaken by the death of his brother and that he wished to spend time with his wife, who has been undergoing cancer treatment. The Social Democrats are expected to announce a new candidate for the post by the end of the week.
A wave of statistics released Thursday represented mixed economic news for Czechs. November’s unemployment rose to 8.2% from October’s 7.7% with the jobless total now hovering just under 600,000. Using previous methods of calculation, the latest figures could represent the high ever jobless figure in recent Czech history at 10.3%. Higher food prices helped push up inflation to 1.4% in December from November’s 1.1%. On the brighter side, industrial production surged ahead with a 6.2% spurt in November. That is almost twice the rise of the previous month.
The outgoing Czech government on Wednesday rejected a civil service bill
put forth by the Social Democrats. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said the
draft legislation could not be implemented as some of its provisions were
likely in contradiction to the Constitution. In a reaction, Social Democrat
chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said the bill was carefully designed, and
expressed hope the legislation would be approved by the lower house.
The adoption of a civil service act might be crucial for the appointment of the new government as it would allow leader of one of the coalition parties, Andrej Babiš, hold a ministerial position despite being listed as a collaborator of the communist secret police.
Labour Ministry officials and representatives of the firm Fujitsu Technology Solutions are to meet on Monday to debate the legal implications of the decision to shut down the welfare payments system which the company had provided since 2012. The company won a contract on running the system but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. Labour offices are now struggling to deliver payments using a previous, now-outdated system and the Labour Ministry says Fujitsu had no reason to act rashly since its system could have remained in operation on the grounds of an addendum to the contract signed. The Labour Ministry has warned that thousands of people could get their welfare contributions late.
Former prime minister and European labour commissioner Vladimír Špidla is to become chief advisor to the country’s likely next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr. Spidla, who was considered to be a hot candidate for the post of labour minister in the emerging government, confirmed having accepted the offer on Friday. The post of labour minister in the new government will thus most likely go to Social Democrat Petr Krčál, a councilor in the Vysočina region. The list of ministerial nominees, which Bohuslav Sobotka submitted to the president on Friday evening, is to be made public on Monday after the three parties of the emerging centre-right coalition – the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats - sign a coalition agreement.
Labour offices are struggling to deliver welfare payments to people after the system which had been in operation since 2012 was unexpectedly shut down late last month. The software provider, the firm Fujistsu Technology Solutions, won a contract on running the system two years ago but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. Labour offices have now returned to a payment system used previously, but they are having to fill in a vast amount of missing data and many employees have not been schooled in how to use it. The Labour Ministry has warned that thousands of people could get their welfare contributions late.
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