President Vaclav Klaus on Friday appointed David Rath health minister. The appointment came after weeks of controversy between the President and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek over whether Mr. Rath was a suitable candidate for the post. Earlier this week David Rath fulfilled the president's condition that he should first relinquish his chairmanship of the doctors' professional association. He is the tenth minister to take up the post in the past 12 years and is expected to launch a radical reform of the money-strapped health sector.
The ruling Social Democratic party has recommended that its candidates in the 2006 general elections be required to sign the Code of Ethics. The document was drafted and presented to the chamber of deputies this week by the Chairman of the lower house Lubomir Zaoralek. It sets a framework for relations between politicians and lobbyists as well as ground rules regarding the acceptance of gifts by public officials and the practice of hiring family members as assistants. Deputies have been severely criticized for the above practices in recent years and a Code of Ethics is believed to have been long overdue. It is now up to individual deputies whether they sign it or not.
The Czech government has pledged to buy a controversial pig farm built on the site of a former concentration camp for Romanies. Representatives of Romany organizations have long protested against its presence, demanding its removal or re-location. Although former governments attempted to resolve the matter in one way or another negotiations always broke down over a lack of funds. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has now told the daily Lidove Noviny that his government would set aside enough money for this purpose in next years draft budget.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed Frantisek Dohnal president of the Supreme Audit Office for a nine year term. The post had been vacant for two and a half years, ever since its last president Lubomir Volejnik died in office. Mr. Dohnal, whose candidacy was proposed by the Christian Democrats, won overwhelming support from deputies in the Lower Chamber. A former governor of the Vysocina region, Frantisek Dohnal has resigned from all his political posts and left the party in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
According to a poll by the CVVM agency, seventy-one percent of Czechs trust President Vaclav Klaus. The findings confirmed the results of a poll by the private STEM polling agency, suggesting Mr Klaus's performance as president was positively assessed by 72 percent of respondents in October. The CVVM poll revealed that the Senate, the upper house of the Czech parliament, enjoys the least trust of respondents. The government is supported by 42 percent of respondents, the lower house by 26 percent and the Senate by 24 percent.
Pavel Nedved will return to help the Czech Republic in this month's World Cup playoff against Norway after a 16-month absence, coach Karel Brueckner said on Thursday. The Juventus midfielder is in the squad for the first time since retiring from international football after the Czechs lost to eventual champions Greece in the Euro 2004 semi-finals. The former European Footballer of the Year hurt his knee in that semi-final with Greece and said he no longer wanted to play for his country because of the toll it was taking on his body. But in recent weeks the 33-year-old let it be known he would consider a return to the squad for the playoff.
The US software giant Microsoft and the Czech government agency CzechInvest plan to open an innovations centre in the Czech Republic at the end of the year, Microsoft vice-president Neil Holloway said on Thursday. The centre should help Czech university graduates improve their skills, assist new software companies in starting business and develop new programmes on the Microsoft platform. According to Mr Holloway, Czech universities and independent software producers should take part in the project, too. The head of strategic products at CzechInvest Tomas Bohrn said the main goal of the centre would be to attract strategic projects in the development of software and microelectronics to the Czech Republic.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has agreed to name David Rath the new health minister on Friday. This ends a battle between the President's Office and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who failed to persuade the president to appoint Mr Rath a fortnight ago. At the time, Mr Rath headed a professional chamber representing doctors and President Klaus feared it could lead to a conflict of interest. Mr Rath gave up the post on Wednesday.
The minimum wage in the Czech Republic will be increased by 6.6 percent as of next January, a spokesperson for the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. The ministry plans further increases in July when the minimum wage is to grow by another 6.2 percent, according to a government proposal. The minimum monthly wage will be 7,660 crowns (or 311 US dollars), compared to the current 7,185 crowns. The minimum hourly pay is to grow to 45.20 crowns (or just under two US dollars). After the second increase, the minimum wage is to reach the equivalent of 330 dollars.
Two out of every five Czechs believe that EU membership has affected their lives more than necessary, the results of an opinion poll suggest. The STEM agency, which conducted the poll says the number of Czechs with this opinion is growing. A growing number of Czechs also believe that ministers, deputies, and senators enjoy too much influence over the ordinary citizen and would like to see more of the power transferred to trade unions and the local authorities.
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