Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas has helped to torpedo proposals for tax
harmonisation in the 27-strong European Union at a two day meeting of
European leaders in Brussels that ended on Friday. The Czech prime
said he took a leading role in opposing proposals from Finland for greater
tax harmonization. The broad-based proposals called for a step by step
harmonization of taxes that would counter harmful tax competition between
countries. Tax issues are overwhelmingly dealt with by national
at the moment though accusations that some countries offer special tax
deals, for example to companies in a bid to attract investment and jobs,
has sporadically fuelled calls for a clampdown.
The Czech Prime Minister also welcomed the fact that no decision was taken to sign what he described as a “blank cheque” for EU countries that encounter severe financial problems such as Greece. Government leaders will resume discussions in December about the format of a new mechanism to help such countries.
The Czech women’s volleyball team has suffered its second defeat in the world championships being played in Japan. The Czech team went down 2:3 in sets against current Olympic title holders Brazil. In the opening game the Czechs lost 0:3 to the Netherlands. The Czechs still have three matches to play in the opening group stage. These are against Porto Rica, Kenya, and Italy.
Unions representing state employees have drafted their own proposals for changes to the labour code. Unions came up with their proposals at a meeting on Friday called to react to the government’s latest proposals to shake up public sector pay and conditions. Earlier in the week Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he was willing to drop proposed changes to public sector pay scales but would not yield on a demand for a 10 percent cut in public sector wage costs next year either through wage cuts or redundancies. The unions, which have given warning of strike action, will hand over their proposal on Monday.
The Czech pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai has been awarded a silver medal for the creativity of its exhibition, ‘Fruits of Culture.’ The gold award was given to Slovenia. The commissioner for the Czech pavilion Pavel Antonín Stehlík said the award was recognition of the success of the national presentation aimed at stressing diverse beliefs, cultures and use of technology. The Czech pavilion has been visited by more than 8.5 million visitors, around 12 percent of the total for the whole exhibition, making it one of the most successful taking part. The exhibition closes its doors on Sunday.
Czech winemakers say they can put around 1.75 million bottles of young, so-called St. Martin‛s wine, on the market this year. This is more than half as much again as produced last year. Winemakers say that the boosted production is an achievement given that poor weather this year which gave them around two weeks less time to prepare the wine. The wine is traditionally produced for St. Martin’s day, which falls on November 11, after which is followed a long fast. The wine is the first of the season.
Minister of the Interior Radek John plans to complete a far reaching audit of the Czech police service’s top body, the presidium, and general directorate of the fire service according to Saturday’s edition of the daily paper Pravo. The audit aimed at uncovering waste and suspect public tenders should be completed by mid-December according to the paper. The minister said he had received hundreds of e-mails highlighting problems and waste since he came into office and added that skeletons had been hidden in cupboards. The minister has already launched an audit into the office managing ministry property and providing services but decided to sack the head of department last week before the results came out.
The Czech government has signalled that it is willing to support a proposal for war veteran status to be given to active fighters against the Communist regime. A proposal from the upper house of parliament, the Senate, calling for such recognition will be discussed by the government on Wednesday. It has already said ahead of the meeting that it believes such a move to legitimize the fight against the Communist regime is necessary. The move has been attacked by left-wing lawmakers. A final decision on giving active anti-Communist fighters the same status as war veterans and resistance fighters during the Nazi occupation will be taken in parliament.
In football, Czech league leaders Viktoria Plzeň returned to winning ways with a 4:2 victory over Teplice on Friday night. The win extends their lead to twelve points over second placed Sigma Olomouc and Sparta Prague. Sparta can close the gap on Saturday in the local derby against Bohemians 1905. Olomouc plays mid-table Hradec Králové on Sunday. Plzeň suffered their first defeat since the start of the season last week.
German and Austrian hospitals are holding a job fair in Prague over the weekend, offering qualified Czech hospital staff significantly higher salaries and better work conditions than they can hope to get in the Czech Republic. The fair comes at a time when many Czech doctors and nurses are actively seeking jobs abroad, fearing that their pay and work conditions will further deteriorate as a result of the government’s austerity plans. Since September more than 3,500 doctors have signed a petition saying they would resign by the end of the year if the government did not increase salaries in state-owned hospitals and clinics.
A top lawyer with a Czech organisation for helping refugees has contrasted the fast-track treatment given to a Cuban political prisoner and other asylum seekers in the Czech Republic. Eva Holá, a lawyer with the non-profit charity the Organisation for Aid to Refugees, said many refugees who had suffered imprisonment and torture from countries such as Syria, the Congo, and Iran had to wait for a year for their asylum applications to be processed. In one case one applicant from Iraq is still waiting after three years. Cuban political dissident Rolando Jiminez Posada was given immediate asylum and greeted by the Minister of Interior Radek John when he arrived with his family in Prague this week. OAR’s Holá said the long waits for an asylum decision continued in spite of applications falling by a third between 2007 and 2009.