The Czech government will take into account the interests of small towns
and villages in reaching agreement on an amendment to the law on budgetary
tax redistribution, Prime Minister Petr Nečas assured the mayors of over
1,000 smaller towns who demonstrated outside the Office of the Government
on Wednesday. The mayors came to show their support for a draft amendment
on tax redistribution prepared by the Finance Ministry, but criticized by
the prime minister’s Civic Democratic Party.
The proposal would raise tax-based revenues for the 6 000 or so small towns and villages by a total of 13.5 billion crowns. Municipalities with 2000 to 10,000 inhabitants would profit most from the change. At the same time it would strip the four biggest cities – Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Plzen – of a total of some five billion crowns for the benefit of smaller municipalities. The prime minister said his party was ready for a compromise that would ensure that large cities would not get more than three-times the amount given to small municipalities in the redistribution of tax yields.
A financial audit at the Education Ministry for 2010 has revealed mistakes in accounting to the tune of 5.7 billion crowns. The Audit Office said in its report that the mistakes were most likely the result of chaos in accounting following the introduction of a new system. The biggest single missing sum of 1.7 billion was lent to Masaryk University in Brno for the construction of a new campus but was not entered in the ministry’s accounting books. Other large transfers of money were also incorrectly registered.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has cancelled seven projects launched by his predecessor that cost the ministry 128 million crowns. Interior Ministry spokesman Pavel Novák told the daily Lidové Noviny that the programmes, which were mostly for training clerks or restricting administration, were scrapped based on a detailed analysis of their sustainability. The minister himself told the paper the programmes were “absolutely worthless”. Former interior minister Radek John, who launched the projects with EU funding but spent considerable resources on their preparation, criticised the decision and said he would be seeking an explanation. The Interior Ministry anticipates a budget of 700 million crowns less in 2012 and its operational expenses have been a frequent cause of concern this year.
President Vaclav Klaus has warned against what he sees as a growing tendency to restrict personal freedom and democracy in the interest of global governance. Speaking at the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute on Monday the Czech president said he was now living in a better world than under communism, but he was still disappointed by the fact that he was not living in a more free and liberal society. He said there were strong tendencies to “govern people’s lives” not just from the EU but from NGOs and public intellectuals without any democratic accountability. The Czech president is a frequent guest speaker at the Competitive Enterprise Institute which was founded by Fred Smith, a fierce opponent of strong governance.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut down its forecast of next
year’s growth of the Czech economy from a previously estimated 2.9
percent to 1.8 percent of the gross domestic product. At the same time,
IMF slightly upped its estimate for this year’s growth to 2.0 percent.
The renewed estimates are part of a global economy outlook which is
threatened by the EU’s debt crisis and the lack of a fiscal plan in the
US. The Czech Finance Ministry in July predicted the country’s growth in
2012 at 2.5 percent.
Several Czech analysts said the IMF’s outlook for the Czech economy reflected worsening global conditions but also warned that the reality might be much worse should the EU’s leading economies slip into recession.
Sparta Prague beat Baník Ostrava 2:0 in the seventh round of the top Czech football division, reinforcing their position at the top of the league table. Sparta scored early on, but the home side then put up fierce resistance that only began to crumble when Baník striker Václav Svěrkoš was sent off for repeated elbowing. In the 85th minute, Sparta’s Léonard Kweuke set the final score at 2:0. Sparta Prague now leads the table with full 21 points, followed by Liberec with 14 points; Plzeň and Jablonec in the shared third place now have 13 points.
The governments of the Czech Republic and the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, in the English Channel, have signed an agreement on the exchange of tax information, the Czech Finance Ministry said on Tuesday. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the agreement was going to have a positive impact on Czech public finances as it narrows the space for tax evasions.
At a session of the Czech lower house that began on Tuesday, MPs are debating a constitutional bill that would introduce a popular vote for the president. The bill however does not enjoy overall support in the house despite having been put forth by both the coalition and opposition parties. While the centre-right coalition would like to increase the powers of a directly-elected president, opposition Social Democrats and Communists expressed concern that a head of state with extended powers might become a tool of partial interests. If approved by both houses of Parliament and signed into law by the president, it would allow people to choose the successor of Václav Klaus in a direct vote in 2013.
A 44-year-old man, who suffered from cancer, shot himself dead in his hospital bed in the north Moravian town of Havířov, the news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday. The incident took place on Monday evening, September 5, when he used his legally held handgun to commit suicide. The terminally ill patient did not injure any members of the staff. The police are not investigating how the man got the weapon to the hospital.
The German “forest boy”, known as Ray, who emerged from a forest near Berlin earlier this month and whose identity remains a mystery to the German authorities, might have lived in the Czech Republic and buried his father there, Germany’s Bild and the UK’s Daily Mail newspapers reported on Tuesday. The boy, who is believed to be between 16 and 18 years old, told the authorities he had been living out in the wild with his father for the last five years. When his father died weeks ago, the boy buried him and went north, as his father told him. The papers quote a spokesman for the German police as saying his father could possibly be buried in the Krušné hory mountains in northern Bohemia. Czech police have reportedly joined in the investigation.
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