ANO chief Andej Babiš says the party’s coalition partners the Social Democrats lied to him in connection with a conflict of interest law approved by the lower house. Mr. Babiš said that the latter had said the law would pertain to future ministers, not current cabinet members. In addition to a previous provision preventing government members from owing media outlets, the version of the bill passed on Tuesday bars their companies from applying for subsidies or taking part in public tender processes. Deputies from ANO said the bill was targeted at Mr. Babiš as his Agrofert is one of the country’s biggest companies and owns major media outlets. The ANO boss said he would consult the matter with his lawyers and make a decision on whether to take action once the bill enters the statute books.
The Czech lower house has passed a conflict of interest law. In addition to a previous provision preventing government members from owing media outlets, the version of the bill approved on Tuesday bars their companies from applying for subsidies or taking part in public tender processes. Deputies from ANO opposed the legislation, which they says is targeted at the party’s chairman Andrej Babiš; his Agrofert is one of the country’s biggest companies and owns major media outlets. Mr. Babiš has signalled that he will take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek has apologised for comparing a system linking cash registers to a central taxation database to a concentration camp. Mr. Kalousek said the system was “mere bullying” and that his party wanted to see it scrapped or postponed. He said TOP 09 would be happy for everybody who escaped from this “concentration camp” but first and foremost they would like to see it done away with. Ahead of a lower house debate this week on the controversial tax record scheme its architect, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, said some businesses could be exempted.
The promising Czech rower Michal Plocek has died at the age of 22. His body was found at the boathouse of the Dukla sports club in Prague. Police and a doctor said there was no evidence of any other person being involved in the death. A two-time winner of the World Rowing Junior Championships, Plocek was seen as a likely heir to the Czech Olympic medallist and world champion Ondřej Synek.
President Miloš Zeman says the Czech Army should focus more on the use of drones, iDnes.cz reported. Speaking at an annual meeting with army chiefs in Prague, Mr. Zeman said the Czech military should move away from a reliance on tanks, which he would confine to the history books alongside the cavalry. He said that he had not wished for a return of the Cold War and that the election of Donald Trump had “shifted that problem from the east to the south”. He also said that though Islamic State might be defeated, “Islamic extremist organisations could seize other countries”.
The company Metroprojekt is set to build a high-speed rail line between Prague’s Václav Havel Airport and the city’s Veleslavín, which is where travelers now transfer from the Metro system to a bus to the airport. Metroprojekt can go ahead with the project after none of the companies that lost the competition appealed the result. The Railway Administration Infrastructure said construction work would not begin until 2020 at the earliest.
France’s president, Francoise Hollande, will meet the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, and prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, on a visit to Prague on Wednesday. The future of the European Union, terrorism and bilateral matters are expected to be high on the agenda during Mr. Hollande’s visit. A representative said Mr. Zeman would raise the issue of Czech haulage firms operating in France being forced to meet the local minimum wage, which is higher than in other EU states.
The Social Democrats are unlikely to support Finance Minister Andrej Babis in pushing through last-minute changes to the law on electronic cash registers, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists on Monday. Following a stormy cabinet session at which the issue was debated, the prime minister said the proposal to exempt e-shops and small entrepreneurs from the duty to have electronic cash registers would only weaken the legislation and lay it open to criticism from the opposition benches. The proposal sparked fierce controversy between Prime Minister Sobotka and ANO leader Andrej Babiš. The prime minister accused Mr. Babiš of damaging the reputation of the ruling coalition while Mr. Babiš said the Social Democrats had politicized the issue. The opposition centre-right parties say this is further proof that the law is ill-conceived and have called on the government to scrap the entire project.
The Czech Republic will give Bulgaria 20 million crowns to help protect the country’s border with Turkey should Ankara fail to keep its agreement with the EU and let loose a flood of refugees, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said following Monday’s cabinet meeting. The Czech Republic previously donated 25 million crowns to Sofia to help the country deal with the impact of the migrant crisis. The government also earmarked 10 million crowns for Jordan, to help improve conditions in the country’s refugee camps.
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