The Czech government has earmarked 200 million crowns or 6.6 million euros for a public information campaign on the EU Constitution. According to the head of the government's department for European affairs, Petra Masinova, the campaign will be explicitly informational in its first stage and will reflect different opinions. The government of Prime Minister Paroubek has not yet decided how the treaty will be ratified, although the Prime Minister has indicated that he favours a referendum.
The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, signed a bill into law on Thursday
that requires all cash register activities of small businesses to be
recorded and monitored. The lower house of Parliament proposed to
monitor cash registers in order to help the government fight against
the grey economy. Small retailers and restaurants will be obliged to
use the registers as of January 2007. Those who would fail to comply
could be fined up to half a million Czech crowns.
Also on Thursday, the President has refused to sign bills into law with which the government hoped to simplify the work inspection system.
The government of New Zealand has decided to increase the number of Czechs permitted to work in the country. Under a bilateral agreement on work stays, which took effect in March, one hundred Czechs between the ages of 18 and 30 were to be granted short-term work permits of up to one year in New Zealand. That number is to be raised to one thousand as of July.
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek held meetings with Health Minister Milada Emmerova and the head of the Czech Medical Chamber David Rath on Thursday to discuss the financial state of the health sector. According to Mr Paroubek the health ministry's most recent plans to solve the financial crisis look promising and could save billions of Czech crowns in the ailing public health-insurance system. The ministry's proposal is to be discussed by the coalition parties within the next two weeks.
The Cabinet-approved changes in the sick-leave insurance system, may
not affect smaller enterprises. Under the new sick-leave bill,
employers would have to cover their employees' sickness benefits in the
first two weeks of sick leave. On the other hand they would pay lower
sickness insurance for the respective employee. After talks with the
Czech Economics Chamber on Thursday, the Labour and Social Affairs
Minister Zdenek Skromach said that businesses employing up to 25 people
may be given the choice of leaving the coverage of their employees'
sickness benefits up to the state.
The Cabinet also set the upper limits of the income base from which sickness and health insurance payments are calculated. The bill has yet to be approved by both houses of Parliament.
Hungary's Foreign Ministry has made a formal complaint to the Czech Republic against the recent unveiling of a new statue of the former Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes. At the end of the Second World War, president Benes issued the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the confiscation of property and expulsion of some half a million ethnic Hungarians as many of them supported Hitler's occupation of Czechoslovakia. The statue of Edvard Benes was unveiled in front of the Foreign Ministry in Prague on Monday.
One of the most popular Czech actresses Stella Zazvorkova has died at age 83. She died of a heart attack in her Prague flat. Mrs. Zazvorkova has over 180 films and countless theatre performances to her name. She was both a great character actress and comedian. Just a few months ago she received the Czech Lion award for her outstanding contribution to Czech cinematography.
The government has approved a bill which is to improve conditions for adoption and foster care. The bill supports all forms of alternative child care and should speed up the process of placing children into adoptive or foster care rather than having them spend years in orphanages due to legal hurdles. NGOs involved in child protection have welcomed the move.
Around 2,000 Czech war veterans have been awarded by the Russian President Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War, as WWII is called in Russia. The Russian General Consul in Brno Viktor Sibilev said the awarded Czech veterans had fought in the Red Army or in partisan resistance units. The Russian diplomat, who on Monday presented the medals to 44 veterans from the eastern Vysocina region, said Russia had been putting together the list since November.
A crowd of around 20,000 ice hockey fans welcomed the Czech ice hockey team who arrived in Prague on Monday afternoon after winning the Ice Hockey World Championships in Vienna on Sunday. The Czech team beat the Canadians 3:0, breaking Canada's bid to win a third consecutive championship. The win handed Czechs their fifth title in ten years. Vaclav Prospal opened the scoring in the first period, while Martin Rucinsky scored in the 2nd, and Josef Vasicek added an empty-netter in the final seconds of the game.
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