Czech police intervened Monday to quash a protest by refugees at a centre for them at Balková in the Plzeň region. A special police squad was called to the centre after the refugees barricaded themselves inside. Police said the refugees later started to throw furniture at them. They said the protest was started by two Nigerians with around a dozen others joining in. The Ministry of Interior says 56 foreigners are being held at the centre capable of hosting 200. The centre was created from a former police training school.
Representatives of government, the unions, and business failed to agree at a meeting Monday on how much minimum wages should increase this year. They agreed however that a new framework for working out the regular increases should be established. Unions have suggested that the increase should be 1500 crowns with the bosses favouring 800 crowns. The Ministry of Labour has suggested a 1200 crown increase. The rise should be finalised this year before lower house elections scheduled for October. The basic guideline is that the minimum wage should be at least two-fifths of the average wage.
Czech minister of industry Jiří Havlíček begins Monday a two-day working trip to Moscow at the hed of a 20-strong business delegation. The main focus of the trip will be a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Denis Manturov. A meeting of the regular committee for Czech economic, industrial, and technology cooperation will also take place.
Spending watchdog the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) says in a report that the Ministry of Education distributed money to sport in a non-transparent and ad hoc manner between 2013 and 2015. The report issued on Monday said that a points system of awarding funds was dropped between 2013 and 2014 when it suited the ministry. Guidelines for co-financing also varied widely without any clear reason. The current outgoing minister, Kateřina Valachová, said that the problems stemmed from previous ministers and that she had to carry out a series of audits when she took over the post. Sports funding from the ministry is currently the focus of a scandal with the head of the Czech football association and a former deputy minister at the education ministry among the main suspects.
The Czech Republic will step up its engagement in the fight against international terrorism, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky told Czech Television. He said that in the summer the Czech Republic would send 15 officers to Bagdad, Iraq to help with training of the local police force and that the number of Czech soldiers in Iraq was likely to increase by 150. At present the Czech military has 47 soldiers in the country. NATO agreed to take a more active role in the fight against IS at a summit in Brussels last week. NATO countries do not want the alliance engaged in active combat against Islamic State militants, even though all are individual members of the anti-IS coalition. The role of the alliance could include training local forces and helping to build militaries and institutions.
President Milos Zeman on Sunday met with the minister of education, youth and sports Kateřina Valachová, who announced her resignation after one of her deputies was charged with large-scale corruption. Valachova said the president asked her to reconsider her decision in view of the strong backing she had from teachers and sportspeople. However the minister said she would stand by her decision and expected to leave office at the end of the month as agreed. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has already proposed a replacement.
The recent government crisis has not significantly impacted support for individual Czech political parties, suggests an opinion poll carried out by the CVVM agency from May 8 to May 18. The ANO party of now former finance minister Andrej Babiš enjoyed the backing of 33 percent of respondents, a similar figure to other polls conducted in previous months. The Social Democrats, with whom ANO clashed during the crisis, garnered 14 percent support, the survey indicates. The right-wing Civic Democrats placed third on 13 percent, climbing above the Communist Party on 11.5 percent.
President Miloš Zeman is set to dismiss Finance Minister Andrej Babiš
from his post on Wednesday, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček
announced at a press conference on Tuesday. Babiš will be replaced by Ivan
Pilný, the head of the lower house’s economic committee.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had proposed the dismissal of ANO party leader and billionaire businessman Andrej Babiš to the president over continuing corruption allegations and unexplained financial dealings. Mr Babiš has persistently denied any wrongdoing.
The spokesman to President Zeman, Jiří Ovčáček, has written on Facebook that the Czech head of state has no issue with naming ANO MP Ivan Pilný as the country’s new finance minister over the course of next week. First, the head of state will meet the prime minister’s request for the current finance minister, Andrej Babiš, to be recalled from his post. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka sought Mr Babiš’ removal after he failed to explain questionable financial dealings.
Early problems in the Cabinet appeared over Ivan Pilný’s nomination as finance minister with the head of the junior coalition party, the Christian Democrats, saying that he did not expect anything good. Pavel Bělobrádek, who is tasked with leading the government’s research and innovation drive, was apparently offended by previous remarks from Pilný that research was ‘a black hole.’ Bělobrádek is currently waiting for government approval for the research budget for 2018 to be increased to 36.2 billion crowns, around 3.5 billion more than this year.