Lawmakers passed the state budget proposal for 2018 after more than six
hours of debate on Tuesday; 140 of 199 MPs present voted in favour. Next
year's budget is counting on a deficit of 50 billion crowns. Revenues
should be 1314.5 billion crowns and expenditures 1364.5 billion in 2018.
The budget, prepared by the former Social Democrat-led government, saw 31 Civic Democrat and TOP 09 MPs vote against.
The opposition parties criticized the budget for what they charge is a needlessly high deficit at a time of economic growth, arguing the government should have proposed a balanced budget instead.
The bill must now be signed by the president.
In a second secret vote, lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies elected
Communist Party MP Zdeněk Ondráček to head the standing parliamentary
commission overseeing GIBS – the police general inspectorate. The news
was confirmed by ANO party member Martin Kolovratník.
Mr Ondráček’s nomination was previously called “problematic” by the prime minister and was opposed by presidential candidate Michal Horáček, who wrote a letter to the prime minster to protest that Mr Ondráček had been a member of a Communist-era police unit which clamped down on student demonstrators in 1989.
Dignitaries and relatives of victims on Tuesday marked the first
anniversary of the Christmas market attack in Berlin last year which killed
12 people, including Czech national Naďa Čižmárová, and left 56 others
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at the ceremony, pledged to help those who had suffered injury or lost loved ones. She also spoke of the necessity to improve how authorities responded to similar attacks.
On December 19, 2016, a Tunisian asylum seeker went on a rampage, driving a stolen truck into pedestrians at the crowded Christmas market; he was later shot dead in Italy.
On Tuesday, Berlin's Mayor Michael Mueller unveiled a memorial at the site of the attack with the names of those who had died and an almost 17-meter gash filled with a gold-coloured metal, representing the tragedy and lives lost.
The Czech national football squad has drawn Uruguay in its opening match at
the China Cup. The tournament, being held for the second time, kicks off in
Nanning, China, in March 2018.
Three days later, Karel Jarolím’s men will face either the home side or
Wales, depending on their results.
The Czech Republic played against Uruguay twice in the FIFA Confederations
Cup in 1997, finishing third.
The South American team includes star forwards such as Luis Suárez, who plays for Barcelona and Edinson Cavani who plays for Paris St. Germain. Uruguay is treating the tournament as a warm-up for this summer’s World Cup.
Prague city councillors have decided to end property rental contracts with
Akroterion, a company which had hoped to open a Ritz-Carlton Hotel on
Prague’s Old Town Square.
The Czech News Agency reported that the company, which owns four buildings and had rented an additional four from the city for a number of years, did not meet rental conditions. The complex of buildings was to have been opened by mid-September of this year and the rent was to have been agreed until 2081. City councillors nixed the plans on the grounds that investors had not been able to get the complex up and running over 15 years.
Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová has suggested the city could have the property renovated as flats which could leased to diplomats.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received an invitation from
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to visit along with a ministerial delegation
which would hold a joint session with Czech cabinet ministers in May. In a
phone call on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu reportedly gave assurances he would try
and attend. Czech and Israeli ministers held such meetings under the former
Social Democrat-led government per a tradition founded in 2012. The Czech
Republic is one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe.
Mr Babiš described Israel as a long-term strategic partner; the Czech government has a similar relationship with Slovakia and Poland.
The May visit would also be part of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
The Civic Democrats, the second-largest party in the lower house, have
repeated they will not back the minority government led by prime minister
and ANO leader Andrej Babiš. Their chairman, Petr Fiala, said his party
would prefer instead if the prime minister intensified efforts to form a
He also reacted to the government’s proposed policy program by saying the Civic Democrats favoured lowering taxes more. The party is also opposed to the electronic cash registers system, put in place by Babiš as former finance minister, arguing the system had driven some entrepreneurs or firms out of business.
On Tuesday, the Christian Democrats, after meeting with the prime minister, said they would not support the government as they could not accept a member of the government, in this case Mr Babiš himself, who was being sought by the police to face criminal charges. In the previous lower house Mr Babiš’ immunity was waived so that he could face charges in a subsidy fraud case.
The prime minister is meeting with the heads of all parties in the lower house, seeking backing for his government ahead of a vote in January.
He has received assurances from the president he will get a second attempt to form a government should the current one fail.
Prime Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has begun talks on possible
support for his minority government with representatives of the other
parties in the Chamber of Deputies, following the publication of the new
cabinet’s draft policy programme on Monday.
Mr Babiš and his negotiating team met with the Civic Democrats and later with Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek. Talks are also scheduled with the Social Democrats, the Mayors and Independents, Freedom and Direct Democracy, the Communists and the Czech Pirate Party.
ANO have 78 deputies in the 200-seat lower house and will need to find either coalition partners or other parties ready to tolerate their minority government if they are to win the necessary confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies.
Carmaker Škoda Auto has again been named Czech Exporter of the Year after
achieving exports of CZK 310 billion in 2016. That figure amounts to almost
9 percent of the country’s total exports in 2016.
Second in the annual awards, which were announced for the 23rd time in a ceremony in Prague on Monday evening, was Foxconn CZ, which finished ahead of Agrofert.
The Association of Exporters expects Czech exports to reach a record CZK 4.15 trillion this year.