Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he wants to gradually increase the minimum wage so as to give people incentive to find employment rather than staying on the dole. Mr. Sobotka said he would be in favour of raising the minimum wage, which is presently 8,500 crowns, by about 500 crowns a year in view of hiking it to over 10,000 by the end of his government’s term in office. Mr. Sobotka pointed out that the fact that the minimum wage had not been raised in six years was highly demotivating. He said the hikes would naturally be consulted in advance with trade unions and employers.
Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 1-0 Saturday night in the teams' final preliminary-round game. Simon Bodenmann scored in the first period and despite playing a fast, aggressive game the Czechs were unable to get past the Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller who made 26 saves. The Czech Republic went 1-2-0-0 in the preliminary round to finish in third place in Group C, ahead of only winless Latvia.
A bus carrying fifty people crashed in the Klatovy region, west of Prague, early on Sunday morning. According to police sources the bus collided with a road maintenance truck and turned on its side. Seven people were reported injured, two of them children who suffered lighter injuries. Two adults were airlifted to hospital. The cause of the accident is being investigated. The police have reportedly ruled out the influence of alcohol.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has unveiled plans to re-establish a special financial police unit to combat tax evasion. In an interview for Czech public television, Mr. Sobotka said he wanted to establish something along the lines of Slovakia’s Cobra tax inspection team which uncovered tax fraud amounting to 94.2 million euros last year alone. The unit has made Slovakia one of the leading East European countries in fighting tax evasion. The Czech prime minister said he wanted a similar team in action in the Czech Republic by 2015 at the latest. The financial police as an independent force was disbanded seven years ago by them minister Ivan Langer. Improving tax collection is one of the new government’s top priorities.
Czech Eva Samkova won the women's snowboarding cross gold medal at the Sochi Olympics on Sunday. The 20-year-old, sporting a fake moustache on her top lip for good luck, dominated all three of her races on the Extreme Park course and crossed the line well clear in the final. Dominique Maltais of Canada took silver, while the bronze went to Chloe Trespeuch of France.
Unaffiliated MP Jiří Pospíšil, who recently left the Civic Democratic Party citing mutual loss of confidence between him and his party colleagues, has confirmed getting an offer from rival center-right TOP 09 to run on their ballot in the European elections. Mr. Pospíšil said in an interview for commercial TV Prima that he was not planning to join any party in the foreseeable future and said that if he decided to run in the European elections he would run as an independent. Jiří Pospíšil, a former justice minister, who spent 14 years in the Civic Democratic Party, was widely considered one of the party’s most promising politicians, but his role was marginalized during the party’s last election conference where he failed to get elected to a deputy post.
Many Czech ski-resorts are facing serious financial difficulties due to the mild winter. Some have struggled to stay open and offer alternate programs but the lack of snow has led hundreds of visitors to cancel their winter holiday plans. Smaller resorts who are not able to produce artificial snow are the worst off. Špindlerův Mlýn in the Giant Mountains, the country’s most popular winter resort, alone reports it has not been affected by the mild winter. According to Mag Consulting winter resorts lost approximately 20 million crowns due to the lack of snow. A monitoring station in the Sumava Mountains eported a record temperature of 18 degrees Celsius on Saturday and a long term forecast predicts above zero temperatures in the coming four weeks.
Environmental activists have criticized the government for failing to provide guarantees in its policy programme against the lifting of limits imposed on brown coal mining in north Bohemia. Representatives of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth said they were deeply discouraged by the fact that the new centre-left administration had vetoed a proposal by the environment minister, Richard Brabec, to protect villages in the north from the threat of industrial expansion. The mining limits were imposed in the early 1990s and have frequently come under attack from politicians and industry leaders who argue that at a time of growing unemployment jobs should be a top priority.
Sculptor Vratislav Karel Novák has died at the age of 71. His characteristic kinetic and light sculptures can be seen in a number of Czech cities as well as in the United States. Novak’s best known work is the Metronome on Letná which was installed in 1991, on the site of a one-time gigantic monument to Stalin which was destroyed in 1962. Novák’s work with metal, reflecting purity and perfection also made him one of the country’s leading jewelers.
The wife of President Miloš Zeman, Ivana, is establishing a charity to help abused children. In an interview for Saturday’s Mladá fronta Dnes daily the First Lady said the issue of physically, mentally and sexually abused children had been marginalized despite the fact that it was a growing problem. According to official statistics 28 children died of physical abuse last year alone and 750 suffered sexual abuse. Mrs. Zemanová appealed to the public to be more vigilant with respect to what is going on in their neighborhood and not hesitate to report cases of suspected child abuse.
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