A small earthquake with a magnitude of 2.3 hit a part of the Jeseniky mountains late on Thursday. The quake was only registered by a few people and was short but relatively intense. Earthquakes are not uncommon in the Jeseniky mountains, but do not cross a magnitude of three; another minor quake was recorded in the same area on June 2, but was weaker, with a magnitude of 1.7. Another area with frequent earthquakes lies further north on the Moravian-Polish border, where earthquakes range from 2.2 to 3.3 in magnitude.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek says that the Value Added Tax increase is definitive. Mr Kalousek told a meeting with managers organised by the weekly Euro that he did not believe that any future government would decrease the VAT, even if they promise to do so before elections. He also rejected criticism that the government has creased unprecedented tax hikes. Last week Parliament overcame the opposition to raise VAT rates by one point to 15 and 21%. From 2016 the rates should be unified at 17.5%.
Meanwhile, deputy Social Democrat chairman Lubomír Zaorálek also accused
Prime Minister Nečas of intimidating the police and state attorneys
through his comments on the case of Vlasta Parkanova. Mr Nečas said
Thursday that a gang of police colonels could not decide on who would or
would not be in the government by asking to release people for prosecution.
The government party’s vetoed a motion by Mr Zaorálek to bring the
comment to the house floor. Alluding to imprisoned opposition MP David
Rath, he said he did not want to believe that giving up an opposition
member means fighting corruption, while being asked for a government
politician means a gang of colonels must be behind it.
Lidové noviny: Omnipol made five billion on CASA deal
The daily Lidové noviny believes the subject that gained from the overpriced purchase of the CASA transport planes was the armaments company Omnipol. The paper writes that Omnipol, whose founder Richard Háva is reportedly a personal friend of Finance Minister Kalousek, brought in more than five billion crowns in 2010. The year prior to the company’s intermediation of the deal, it had netted less than one billion. According to Lidové noviny, the Czech Republic paid twice what Portugal paid for the same planes – some 875 million crowns per plane compared to 418 paid by Portugal.
Vlastimil Rampula has resigned as Prague’s High State Prosecutor. On Wednesday, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that Mr Rampula’s dismissal last year by Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil was appropriate, given that the prosecutor had impeded various high profile trials, including that of the bankrupt IPB bank and a dubious purchase of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden. A spokeswoman for the Supreme State Prosecutor’s office has told the press that the position would be filled by deputy Libor Grygárek.
The Senate has proposed cancelling mandatory consent of both parents for the medical treatment of children. The proposal was sent to the lower house on Friday with a request that it be fast-tracked. Consent from both parents was introduced in the health services reform package and has come under criticism for causing problems both in families and in health care facilities. The Social Democratic Party, which proposed the amendment, says the practice is impossible to fulfil in many cases and only leads to signatures being forged.
The Czech Press Agency has reported that anticorruption police are investigating nine others in connection with the case of MP Vlasta Parkanová. According to the daily Mladá fronta Dnes, detectives began investigating the former head of the office for supervising Defence Ministry acquisitions, Roman Hošta and ten others. On Wednesday police asked Parliament to give up Ms Parkanová, a former defence minister, for prosecution over suspicions of improper army purchases. The opposition Social Democrats have called on her to resign as deputy chairwoman of the lower house. Parkanová herself insists there was nothing dubious about the deals, which were approved by the government at the time as a whole.
The Czech Philharmonic orchestra, led by conductor Jakub Hrůša, opened the 54 year of the international opera festival Smetanova Litomyšl. The orchestra played Bedřich Smetana’s symphonic poem Valdštýnův tábor and three symphonic sketches by Claude Debussy, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Concert no. 1 in B minor with guest pianist Fazil Say. The evening was commenced by Václav Klaus, Organisers expect nearly 30,000 people to attended the 31 events that will take place until July 8.
The top 50 Czech exporters saw their exports rise by 8% to 901 billion in 2011, according to the CZECH TOP 100 association. The association’s data shows that the country’s largest exporter was again its largest Czech car manufacturer, Skoda Auto, which raised exports from 197.6 billion in 2010 to last year´s 230.5 billion. Alpiq Energy SE saw the largest growth in exports last year, with foreign sales up by 16 billion. The top 50 exporters also recorded a 30% rise in their exports in 2010, up to 832 billion. Foreign sales of the 10 biggest exporting companies increased by 41 billion to 657 in 2010.
Parliament has nominated 27 people for state distinctions. Former hockey player Jaroslav Holík and guitarist Lubomír Brabec were put forward for Medals of Merit, as were former head of religious broadcasts at Radio Free Europe Karel Jaroslav Fořt and art historian Bohumil Samek. Both houses recommended a special posthumous award for former Supreme Court head and ombudsman Otakar Motejl, whio died two years ago. The final decision on such awards rests with President Václav Klaus. Last year, only six of Parliament’s 31 nominations were awarded.
The Regional Court in Brno has overturned a nearly one billion crown fine imposed by the antitrust office (UOHS) on sixteen international engineering companies for forming a cartel. The fine was the highest that UOHS has imposed in its history. The case will now be returned to UOHS, unless the antitrust watchdog files a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court. The court did not deny existence of a cartel, or the fact that it affected the Czech market, but ruled that it was unclear which companies from which concerns had taken part in it. UOHS welcomed the confirmation of the cartel, and said only it would be considering what steps to take next.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czech pop music legend Karel Gott dies at the age of 80
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott