Parliament has passed in its second reading a proposed amendment to the law which would motivate the unemployed to seek jobs more actively. The bill would lower the subsistence level, thereby lowering social benefits for the unemployed. It would also lower the amount of financial support given to people with large families allegedly to prevent parents from living off their children. Romany representatives have slammed the proposal calling it racist and discriminatory and arguing that many of them cannot find work no matter how hard they try.
The Cabinet has approved a long term plan which would improve the living conditions of handicapped people and help them to integrate in society. The plan provides for a gradual removal of the existing obstacles which prevent the handicapped from attending common schools, using public transport and getting jobs. Further measures are to help handicapped people to receive home care wherever possible. The plan, which is to be put into effect between 2006 and 2009, involves over 120 steps for individual ministries to make in their respective sectors, as well as changes in legislation.
The Constitutional Court has acknowledged the Czech citizenship of the late Hugo Salm, opening the way for a large scale restitution of property. The court overturned an earlier verdict of the Supreme Court according to which Salm had not been a Czechoslovak citizen and the confiscation of his property on the basis of the post-war Benes decrees could not be legally questioned. The Constitutional Court overturned this ruling on the grounds of a certificate from March of 1946, which confirmed Salm's citizenship. His heirs may now lay claim to 7,000 hectars of land in south Moravia as well as the Rajec nad Svitavou chateau.
A government bill to raise regulated rent has made it through the first
reading in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. The bill, which
sees regulated rent increase by an annual average of 9.3% for a period
of six years, is now to be discussed by a number of parliamentary
committees. Under the government's proposal, the annual increases would
begin in October 2006.
An estimated 750,000 flats are rent-controlled in the Czech Republic. If the bill comes into effect, an additional 36 billion crowns will be collected in rent, in the six years, according to Regional Development Ministry estimates.
Four out of seven companies have advanced to the second round of a close to one billion US dollar Czech Army tender, reportedly the biggest in its history. The four bidders that are still in the race to supply over 200 armoured transport vehicles, from 2007 to 2012, are the United State's BAE Systems, Finland's Patria, Austria's Steyer-Daimler-Puch and Germany's Rheinmetall.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has appointed actor Vitezslav Jandak culture
minister. Mr Jandak says his main priority will be to get his ministry a
bigger slice of the state budget and attract more sponsors to rebuild the
country's cultural heritage. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek expects the new
culture minister to establish a constructive dialogue with the churches -
an area, which has proved to be problematic in recent years. Mr Jandak
attended his first lower house meeting as culture minister, on Wednesday
evening, just hours after his appointment. He replaces the late Pavel
Dostal who died of cancer last month.
President Klaus also appointed the former Prague mayor, Igor Nemec, as head of the Office for Protection of Personal Data on Wednesday.
The Education Ministry has adopted a new plan that hopes to increase the number of Roma children from low-income families in secondary schools. Educational institutions have until the end of September to apply for up to 7,000 crowns (approx. 290 US dollars) to cover a Roma student's expenses for the period from September to December. These include tuition fees, and food and travel expenses. All applications will be processed by a special education ministry committee with representatives from regional offices, the ministries of interior and labour and social affairs, and the Government Council for Roma Affairs. The ministry has earmarked 10 million crowns (approx 420,000 US dollars) for this project.
Jaroslav Basta, the former Czech ambassador to Russia, has been appointed deputy foreign minister for political issues. Basta served as minister without portfolio in the Social Democrat Cabinet headed by Milos Zeman where he was in charge of the intelligence services. He was also one of the people behind the former government's anti-corruption drive "Clean Hands". Its poor results were one of the reasons why Mr. Basta had to leave the cabinet in the year 2000.
The police have arrested a man who threatened to kill innocent people if he did not receive five million crowns from the state. The 21 year old sent the interior ministry a number of e-mails in which he said innocent people would die in a terrorist attack unless his conditions were met. He was arrested a week after sending the first mail. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’