Police in the region of Vysočina have so far this autumn checked some 1,200 hunters, finding no cases of serious wrongdoing. The news was confirmed by the regional police spokeswoman Dana Čírtková. Examined were permits, the state of hunters' firearms, and whether any alcohol had been consumed. On Saturday alone two hunting parties, totaling some 40 participants, were checked.
Police on Saturday stopped a total of seven people by roughly mid-day for riding Segways in Prague's historic centre where the vehicles are banned. In two cases, the riders were foreign nationals who were given symbolic and low fines of 100 crowns (less than four euros). Police have the right to fine riders up to 2,000 crowns. Prague city councillors approved the ban on the use of Segways on roads and sidewalks in the historic centre in July but the ban was not enforced before some 600 traffic signs highlighting the ban were installed in areas.
Tax changes being planned by the Social Democrats would "chase successful people and firms from the Czech Republic", Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has said in response to the Social Democrats plans regarding progressive taxation. The current coalition partners, polls suggest, are likely to finish first and second in the election next year and are vying for a fair amount of the same voters. The last national election was won narrowly by the Social Democrats. Recent rhetoric has put the political parties' differences into sharper relief: Mr Babiš, who heads ANO and is also deputy prime minister, said he did not understand why he and his party were - in his view - "continually criticized" by Social Democrat leader Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
Either ANO or the Social Democrats is how the head of the Social Democratic Party, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, assessed the chances of winning next year's parliamentary election which will outline the direction of the country for the next four years. Mr Sobotka made the statement at a closed meeting of the party leadership on Saturday. The party chairman has been trying to drum up support ahead of a party congress next March; so far no other candidate has come forward to challenge Mr Sobotka for the post. The leader said the Social Democrats needed to focus on a base of voters including families with children, the employed, and seniors and, for example, in improving wages. Polls have regularly put fellow members in government, ANO, first, ahead of the Social Democrats, although both parties lost ground in a recent survey.
Around 700 village pubs are reported to have closed down in connection with the introduction of a law on electronic cash registers at the start of December, the ctk news agency reports citing the results of a survey among the country’s 6,200 towns and cities. The pubs closing down generally offer beer, but not food, and serve as social hubs in small villages. The mayors of many small villages say they fear for the fate of small mixed shops which are often the only source of groceries for the locals. The introduction of electronic cash registers was the finance minister’s flagship project to curb tax evasion.
Employees of the Dutch retailer Ahold, which owns the Albert supermarket chain in the Czech Republic, have won a battle for higher wages. Ahold representatives agreed to a trade unions demand for a one-off 1,000 crown bonus in 2016 and an 8.5 percent wage increase in 2017. According to trade unions the average monthly wage of Albert employees is 12,500 crowns, Ahold claims it is 3,000 crowns higher. The wage dispute had dragged for some time and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka recently intervened on the behalf of Czech employees. Ahold employs some 17,000 people in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Education Ministry has asked the Czech Football Association to change the logo on the jerseys of the national team’s players. The national football team selected the two-tailed Czech lion, which appears on the country’s state emblem, for its logo, but according to the law on state symbols the team should by right have chosen either the state flag, the name of the country or the whole emblem which apart from the lion also depicts a crowned eagle. The national team is vehemently against the idea of changing the logo, saying it is a protected trademark.
The Czech Republic and Iran are seeking ways to further increase their growing trade turnover. Following a meeting with the visiting Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said he would like to see bilateral trade increase tenfold in the near future. Czech exports to Iran increased by 46 percent in the first nine months of this year and bilateral trade is expected to get a new impetus with the signing of an agreement on protection of investments between the two countries scheduled to take place early next year. The Czech Republic has said it is ready to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a bill that should introduce a broad ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants. The government-proposed legislation was defended by the newly appointed Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik who said it was a vital step in protecting public health and particularly that of the young generation which frequently topped the European ladder in tobacco and alcohol abuse. The draft law caused heated controversy in the lower house and there were numerous efforts to modify the ban, such as a rejection of the proposed amendment that would ban smoking in street cafes or cars with child passengers. The draft legislation now goes to the Senate. If it wins approval there and is signed by the president it should come into force in May of next year.
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