Strong rain showers are predicted to hit the north-west of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has warned that in some locations, precipitation could reach up to 50 milliliters within 24 hours. Rain showers are expected to continue through the beginning of next week, with mountainous areas in the north-west affected most.
According to a fresh survey published by KMPG, one of the largest international services firms, about a third of the Czech Republic’s top managers are skeptical regarding the future of the euro. In Europe, only about a quarter responded similarly. Some three-quarters of respondents polled in the Czech Republic said that the EU is becoming a less important institution and predicted that this development would continue in the future. While 63 percent of Czech leaders of big companies believe adapting to changing customer demands is crucial to remaining competitive, only 24 percent of international company directors said they considered it an important factor.
The Senate on Wednesday approved a proposal that officially recognizes former active members of the anti-communist resistance. Under the new legislation, those who fought against the communist regime will be awarded 100,000 Czech crowns in recognition of their merit. Widowed spouses of resistance fighters are to receive half that amount. In addition, members of the resistance with lower-than-average pensions will see their monthly payments elevated to the average level of pensions in the Czech Republic. Whether a citizen can be considered a former active member of the anti-communist resistance will be determined by the Security Services Archive. The proposal is now set to be signed into law by President Václav Klaus and should come into effect on November 17, the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, which is a national holiday.
The junior coalition party Public Affairs opposes the VAT hike saying that if it was unavoidable it would prefer for two separate VAT rates to be maintained since such an amendment would have a softer income on low-income groups. Public Affairs leader Radek John said a unified 19 percent VAT would make the middle class and low-income groups bear the brunt of the fiscal reforms. The party has said it prefers progressive taxation and higher corporate taxes as a way of reducing the deficit in public finances.
Environment activists continue their vigil at Šumava National Park for fear of illegal logging. The Czech branch of the NGO Friends of the Earth has been camping out in a protected part of the nature reserve since Friday ready to physically prevent the logging of bark-beetle infested trees. Activists say that the park management had failed to obtain an exemption required to cut in the most protected parts of the park, but that it had some 3,000 trees marked in the area for logging. Loggers reportedly arrived in the vicinity on Tuesday but headed for a different part of the forest.
Government ministers on Tuesday started debating a proposed hike in VAT. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has suggested introducing a unified 19 percent VAT rate, which would help bring the public finances deficit down to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2012. Books newspapers and medicaments would be exempted from the unified 19 percent rate and would remain in their current 10 percent bracket. An alternative proposal floated by the finance minister would see a unified VAT rate at 17.5 percent, without any exemptions, but which would require further spending cuts and would lead to a deficit in the government’s pensions’ funds. Both options were discussed at a meeting of coalition leaders on Monday which ended inconclusively.
Total production of road vehicles in the Czech Republic grew by 13.8 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2011, the Automotive Industry Association said on Tuesday. Passenger car output amounted to 632,425 units, up by 13.57 percent on the year, with Skoda the largest producer. Lorry production increased by 10.19 percent year-on-year to 638 units. While Avia registered a growth of 64.37 percent, Tatra saw a fall of 13.08 percent. Bus production amounted to 1,469 units, up by 19.63 percent on the year and motorbike production grew by 157.21 percent to 589 units, with Jawa the only Czech brand.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel who is still recovering from a bad respiratory infection in March has been moved to his country cottage. An assistant to Mr Havel said his health had slightly improved over the past week and doctors were hoping that the bracing country air would do him good. The former president has been plagued by respiratory infections ever since he had part of his right lung removed due to cancer 15 years ago.
President Václav Klaus on Tuesday met for talks with the leader of the opposition Social Democrats Bouslav Sobotka. The talks reportedly focused on domestic and EU matters, particularly the Czech opt-out from the Lisbon Treaty which is to be ratified along with the ratification of Croatia’s accession treaty later this year. The Czech opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, that is part of the Lisbon Treaty, was pushed through by President Vaclav Klaus in 2009. The Czech president set this as a condition for signing the treaty, citing fears of Sudeten German property claims. The Social Democrats oppose the opt-out, saying that the president’s fears are unjustified.
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