Head of state president Miloš Zeman officially appointed Jan Chvojka as new minister for human rights and legislation and Miloslav Ludvík as the new minister of health. The appointments for the Social Democrat Party were already announced by prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka in a minor reshuffle of the cabinet. The two new ministers will be installed at their ministries today. Sobotka said his party needed new blood and faces ahead of parliamentary elections in a year’s time and following the disappointing performance in regional elections in October. Fellow coalition partners the Christian Democrats and ANO refused to make changes to their own ministerial teams.
A Prague court on Wednesday threw out an appeal by a former defence minister and confirmed that she must pay a fine of 16,000 crowns for releasing information about a corruption case. The court confirmed the fine on Vlasta Parkanová was imposed on her by the data protection agency after she released details of witness replies regarding a corruption case involving the purchase of CASA transport aircraft. The former minister said she had acted to protect herself in a highly publicized case.
A regional court in Ostrava was due Wednesday to deal with another application for insolvency regarding a company from the Vítkovice engineering group. The latest application focuses on Vítkovice Mechanika with the applicant, Wetag Invest, claiming it is owed 900,000 crowns. A court is already dealing with an insolvency application for one of the group’s flagship companies, Vítkovice Power Engineering. Around 500 creditors have already come forward claiming they are owed around 75 billion crowns. It faces major problems over a contract to build a power plant in Turkey.
Czech households’ borrowing from banks climbed by around 11 billion crowns in October from September according to the latest figures released by the Czech National Bank. Year on year the total household debt has risen by around 94 billion crowns to now total 1.4 trillion crowns. Company debts rose between September and October by around 7.0 billion crowns to total 1.22 trillion crowns.
Wealthy Czechs are increasingly investing in underground bunkers due to security fears, iDnes.cz reported. Dozens of people have this year paid to have shelters built beneath their homes against natural disasters, industrial accidents and nuclear or chemical weapons, the news website said. A representative of a firm specialising in the area said it had just completed its 28th bunker, with two-thirds of them having been installed in the Prague area.
The Czech state is to begin funding schools according to the number of hours taught rather than number of pupils. The provision is included in an amendment to the law on education approved by the lower house that will take effect in 2018. The bill also includes measures aimed at protecting teachers and pupils from attack in the classroom. The government rejected calls to reduce the amount the state contributes to private and religious schools.
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.
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