The outgoing caretaker government of Prime Minister Jan Fischer convened
for the last time on Monday. Mr. Fischer said he regretted that he had not
been able to push through more reforms during his year in office. He
particular regretted not being able to do more to reform the state
One of the government’s last tasks was to take account of a report on steps taken so far to counter the illegal employment of foreign workers in the country. According to ministry figures, around 231,000 foreigners worked legally in the Czech Republic at the end of 2009 with the total decreasing by around 54,000 over the previous 12 months. The fear is that some of those who lost their above board, legal, jobs have sought illegal employment.
The Czech operations of the iconic footwear company Bat’a plunged into a loss in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis. The company made a loss of 16.43 million crowns on shrunken turnover of 2.46 billion crowns. A year earlier the company, which employs around 1,100 people, posted a slim profit of 1.65 million crowns on turnover of 2.76 billion crowns. The company expects an improved result for 2010.
The deadline for applications for the post of director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes closed at midday on Monday. Nine applications were received including two from foreign historians. The post at the body which holds the archives of the Communist secret police and is supposed to promote research into Communist and Nazi era crimes fell vacant when historian Jiří Pernes was dismissed at the start of May following a plagiarism scandal. The temporary head, Zdeněk Hazdra, has said he will not stand. The institute has been beset by problems and scandals since its creation.
Earlier, members of the Public Affairs party gave overwhelming support to
its participation in the coalition. Around 3,000 of the just under 17,000
eligible party voters, or around 78 percent, voted in favour in an internet
ballot which finished at 10 am on Monday morning.
The wider leadership of the TOP 09 party also backed the agreement following a meeting on Monday morning. Their partner organisation, the Movement for Mayors and Independents, also gave its approval. The leadership of the Civic Democrats followed suit later in the afternoon. During negotiations the Civic Democrats were seen giving away on a number of key points, particularly concerning the share out of ministerial portfolios.
The Czech Republic won its Davis Cup quarter final tie against Chile by 4:1. The Chileans got their sole point in the first of the return singles on Sunday when Jorge Aguilar beat Lukáš Dlouhý 6:1, 7:6. In the final match, Ivo Minář beat Christobal Saavedra-Corvalan 7:6, 6:2. The Czechs had secured their place in the semifinals after taking a 3:0 lead following the doubles tie on Saturday. They will now face Serbia in September.
Consumer price inflation in June was 1.2 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, according to the Czech Statistical Office. That level is unchanged from the rate in May but around twice the inflation rate of the first few months of the year. The main factors pushing prices up were the higher cost of food, drink and recreation. But clothes and shoe prices fell. Experts expect the trend of rising prices to continue but not exceed the central bank’s guidelines.
The West Bohemian spa town of Mariánské Lázně has been pledged 17 million crowns from European Unions funds to counter the spread of Giant Hogweed. The massive and fast spreading plant is a major problem round the town. The funds will be used to help pay for chemical and physical removal as part of a pilot project over the next four years. The project will focus on a stretch of countryside along the Kosí and Hutský streams. The area occupied by the invasive plant has increased fivefold along the Kosí river over the last 15 years according to regional experts.
A coalition agreement paving the way for a centre-right government was signed by the leaders of the Civic Democrat, TOP 09 and Public Affairs parties on Monday evening. Prime minister designate, Petr Nečas of the Civic Democrats, later presented the programme to President Václav Klaus at Prague Castle. Mr. Klaus should appoint a 15-member cabinet on Tuesday morning. The clock will then start ticking for the new government to win a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament within 30 days. The three parties have 118 seats in the 200 seat lower house.
Police on Monday highlighted the high accident figures since the start of the summer holidays on Czech roads. They said that 75 people had been killed since June 25 with the last two weeks being the worst period over the last two years. Most of the fatalities have been car drivers. Police say they have stepped up road checks with an extra 1,000 police put on duty over the recent weekend. But they say they are powerless to improve sometimes rash and reckless behaviour. Accident figures had been falling since the start of the year.
Unemployment in June fell by 0.2 of a percentage point from May to 8.5 percent with almost 488,000 people seeking work, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Monday. The jobless rate in June 2009 stood at 8.0 percent. A stabilisation or slight fall in the unemployment rate had been expected by analysts. Labour offices say the drop was caused by the hiring of seasonal workers on farms and by the construction industry and recruiting by manufacturers.