A bill which temporarily cuts social insurance payments for employers, to save jobs during the current financial crisis, was signed into law by Czech President Václav Klaus on Tuesday. The law allows firms to pay less social insurance for each of their employees until the end of 2010. It will come into effect on August 1, a spokesperson for the President’s Office said on Tuesday. The law will see employers pay just over three percent less for each of their employees and is aimed at protecting those in the lowest paid jobs, whose positions are most at risk, said Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Šimerka on Tuesday. The law forms part of the government’s anti-crisis stimulus package.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Tuesday that Canada had not yet re-introduced visas for Czech nationals and that Prague continued to negotiate with Ottawa in a bid to curb the move. On Friday, Czech Television broadcast a report claiming that the Canadian authorities had already decided to re-implement visas for Czechs and would make a public announcement to this effect on Tuesday. Speaking on Tuesday, however, the Czech foreign minister said that he had ‘no indication’ that the Canadian government was about to make such a move. Canada is thought to want to re-introduce visas for Czechs after receiving over 1,000 asylum claims from Czechs, predominantly Czech Romanies, in the first four months of this year alone.
The majority of Czechs are for registered same-sex partnerships, but against gay adoption, suggests a poll conducted by the CVVM agency and published on Tuesday. Nearly three quarters of those polled said that they believed homosexual couples should be able to cement their relationship through a civil partnership, while only 27 percent of those questioned said they believed same-sex couples should be able to adopt. When asked whether they agreed with gay marriage, 47 percent of those polled said yes, while 46 percent of respondents were against. According to the poll, just over one half of Czechs believed that they lived in a society which was ‘not very tolerant’ of same-sex relationships.
Prague slipped down the rankings of most expensive town for expatriates this year by more than 40 places. In a study conducted by consultancy firm Mercer in 2008, Prague was judged the 29th most expensive town for expats to live in on the planet. This year, Prague ranked 70th on the list. For the study, the cost of accommodation and over 200 different items were noted in 143 cities around the globe. Top of this year’s poll was Tokyo, while the second most expensive place to settle was Osaka. Moscow and Geneva came third and fourth respectively.
The Czech Army is planning some 1,800 lay-offs in the coming months, said Chief of Staff General Vlastimil Picek on Tuesday. The redundancies will be made up of 600 civilian staff and 1,200 soldiers, Mr Picek said. The army is laying off employees due to budget cuts at the Defence Ministry brought about by the current economic downturn. In 2009, the Defence Ministry’s budget is down by more than 7 billion crowns (377 million USD) on that of the previous year. A spokesperson also told the press that, for the meantime, the army was not seeking to take on new recruits.
Tuesday evening sees Czech virtuoso violinist Pavel Šporcl open the fifth Třeboňská nocturna festival in the south Bohemian town of Třeboň. The festival presents Czech and foreign musicians playing classical music in some of the town’s most scenic locations. Another highlight at the festival will be a performance staged by young musicians from the nearby Austrian twin-town of Schrems. The festival runs until July 11 and for more information, visit the event’s website: www.trebonskanocturna.cz.
Revenue generated by the shooting of films in the Czech Republic fell last year by nearly 28 percent. Last year, filmmaking generated 3.5 billion crowns (190 million USD) in the Czech Republic, in 2003, the amount brought in by film production totaled more than double this sum. According to those in the industry, the fall in revenues last year was mainly due to a fall in the number of foreign productions being shot in the Czech Republic – with Hollywood in particular turning its back on this country. Politicians are currently discussing how to amend legislation so as to attract foreign film companies to the country. At the moment, the Czech Republic offers no financial incentives to filmmakers, unlike Germany, France, Great Britain and Hungary.
The health authorities have started inoculating children in the flooded regions against hepatitis. In the next few days over 3,000 children in the north, south and east of the country are to be vaccinated free of charge. Epidemiologists have warned people involved in clean up operations to take extra precautions in order to prevent the spread of disease. Many areas remain on emergency water supplies and thousands of homes are still inhabitable.
The 15th annual music festival Rock for People in Hradec Kralové winds up on Monday night with a concert by the British group Placebo. Bloc Party, Underworld and the American group Gogol Bordello are also expected to make an appearance. The organizers report a record attendance of over 25,000 visitors.
Masses were held around the country on Monday commemorating the legacy of
the 15th century reformer priest Jan Hus who was burned at the stake on
July 6, 1415. Jan Hus (John Huss) was a Catholic priest and rector of the
University of Prague who was strongly influenced by the teachings of the
English reformer priest John Wycliffe. He translated Wycliffe’s works
into Czech and proposed to reform the church in Bohemia just as Wycliffe
had in England. He was excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 1411 before
being condemned as a heretic and executed in Constance four years later.
July 6th is a public holiday in his memory and the event is marked by religious services, concerts, exhibitions and even theatre performances. This year the festivities were low key due to the floods but thousands of people attended the mass in his birthplace Husinec and in Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel were he preached.
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