The Ministry of Trade and Industry has put forward a proposal aimed at cutting prices of high-speed internet connections in the Czech Republic. As part of an initiative to bring the internet to more households, the ministry is seeking to lower the value added tax rate on high speed connections from the current 20 percent to 15 percent over the next five years. The proposal, which was announced on Wednesday, would need to be approved by the Ministry of Finance. Opponents of the measure say it would increase the state budget deficit. Roughly half of all Czech households have web connections.
In Prague and other locations in the Czech Republic, police have started enforcing strict security measures in preparation for the visit of the US and Russian presidents. The Hilton and Four Seasons hotels, where Barrack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev will be staying, will be the most closely guarded locations in the capital. Police and security experts are also inspecting relatively busy parts of the city, along with potential high risk spots such as bridges and tunnels. In the capital, 1500 police officers were on duty on Wednesday, with roughly 5000 expected to be working until the presidents have left. Outside of Prague, the police are also intensively patrolling motorways that lead to the capital for suspicious vehicles.
The zoo in the north Bohemian town of Ustí nad Labem has seen the birth of an unusually tall baby giraffe. The newborn, which was presented to the public on Wednesday, measured 203 centimeters at birth, which is roughly 40 centimeters above the average height for babies of the species. The zoo has been breeding giraffes since 1983 and has not seen the birth of such a tall specimen before.
The head of the Civic Democrats’ senators group Tomáš Julínek said on
Tuesday that the Czech Senate will discuss the controversy surrounding the
new director of the Institute for Totalitarian Studies Jiří Pernes at its
next session in April. Mr. Julínek said he feared that the institute would
stray from its mission under Mr. Pernes. So far, over thousand people have
signed a petition for the institute to start a new selection procedure for
the director’s position. The Senate appoints all members of the
Earlier this year, information that Mr. Pernes took evening classes at a Marxist-Leninist institute of higher learning, evoked a storm of controversy surrounding his appointment to the post
The Civic Democrats have announced plans to lower the state budget deficit to three percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2013. Lowering the deficit to this level is one of the conditions for the Czech Republic to adopt the euro. This year, the party aims to decrease the deficit to 5.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. The country’s biggest right-of-centre party is also pushing for legislation that would punish ministers and deputies for actions that affect the state budget negatively. Reforms in the pension sector and budget cuts in several ministries are a part of this new plan that the party says would get rid of the state budget deficit entirely by 2017. The leader of the Civic Democrats, Petr Nečas, said on Wednesday that the party would not increase taxes, since that would hinder economic growth.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in Prague later on Wednesday ahead of the signing of a nuclear arms deal with his US counterpart, Barack Obama. Mr Medvedev is set to hold talks with Czech President Václav Klaus on Wednesday evening, ahead of a meeting with Mr Obama on Thursday morning. The two leaders will then sign the weapons pact at noon. President Obama will attend a dinner with 11 leaders from the central and eastern Europe region on Thursday evening, with talks with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer and President Klaus his last engagement before he flies back to Washington on Friday morning.
The ice hockey player Robert Reichel announced on Wednesday that he was going to end his career as a player. Next season, the 38-year-old triple world champion will train the Litvínov hockey team together with the team’s current trainer. Mr. Reichel said that while the decision did not come easy for him, he was looking forward to this new chapter of his career. The forward helped the Czech national hockey team win gold at the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano in 1998.
The OECD says the Czech Republic’s public finance deficit is unlikely to fall below the 3 percent cut-off required for adoption of the single European currency before the year 2013. Speaking on Tuesday, the general secretary of the OECD, Angel Gurria, said the main challenge facing the next Czech government would be to stabilise the country’s public finances and limit its indebtedness. He said the date on which the Czech Republic could adopt the euro would mainly depend on fulfilling those criteria. In 2009 the Czech public finance deficit rose to 5.93 percent of GDP; it is expected to fall back to 4.8 percent this year. The country does not have a target date for Euro adoption.
The new manager of Slavia Prague football club František Cipro continued his winning start with a 3:0 home win over Bohemians 1905 on Monday evening. In his first game in charge on Thursday, Slavia beat their biggest rivals Sparta Prague 1:0 in the first leg of the Czech cup quarter-finals. Cipro replaced Karel Jarolím as boss after the latter parted company with Slavia following a run of poor results; during Jarolím’s five years in charge the club won back-to-back league titles for the first time in decades and reached the Champions League for the first time ever.
US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev will
sign a treaty reducing their countries’ nuclear arsenals at Prague Castle
at noon on Thursday, the Czech News Agency reported. Other details of the
summit have also been revealed. After the signing at the castle’s Spanish
Hall, the two leaders will be the guests of Czech President Václav Klaus
at a ceremonial lunch. On Thursday evening Mr Obama will attend a dinner at
the residence of the US ambassador to Prague with 11 heads of state and
government from the central and eastern European region. Before he leaves
Prague on Friday morning, the US president is also expected to hold talks
with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer and President Klaus.
The new pact builds on the 1991 START treaty and restricts both the US and Russia to about 30 percent fewer nuclear warheads than they currently possess. Thursday’s signing comes almost exactly a year after President Obama outlined his policies on nuclear weapons in a speech in front of thousands of people at Prague Castle.
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