Czech finance minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš has released the results of the audits of his past incomes. The minister and billionaire businessman ordered the audits in reaction to media speculations about a suspicious origin of his property. The auditing firms confirmed his earlier statement that his overall income between the years 1996 and 2015 amounted to 2.4 billion crowns. The server Echo24 has reported that the amount Mr. Babiš spent purchasing bonds in his company Agrofert a few years ago was considerably less than his declared income at the time. In reaction to the allegations, Babiš said that apart from the above incomes that were subject to taxation, he had untaxed incomes of 650 million crowns from the sale of firms and shares, as well as from previous businesses.
A meeting of the Permanent Control Committee on Military Intelligence will take place in the Lower House on Friday over the case of a military intelligence officer who was allegedly surveilling the villa of interior minister Milan Chovanec. The news website SeznamZpravy.cz reported on Wednesday that a military intelligence officer was arrested in Prague last week while taking photographs in the vicinity of a villa belonging to the Ministry of the Interior and used by Mr Chovanec. The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, has strongly denied speculation about his agents surveilling the house.
President Miloš Zeman has vetoed the bill on care for the country’s national parks. The lower house of parliament earlier this month approved the original version of the law, rejecting Senate proposals that would have watered down the rules for national parks and given local councils and inhabitants more room to push for development. The proposed upper house changes were backed by just 28 lawmakers with 109 opposed. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the original rules offered sustainable development for parks and increased the role of local authorities. Mr Zeman said earlier he would veto the original version of the law.
A happening took place outside Prague Castle on Friday, calling attention to the website platform President 21, where people can choose their candidate for the upcoming presidential election. So far, nearly 60,000 people took part in the game, suggesting over 500 candidates. The think-tank Institute for Democracy 21, which organised the event, plans to hold similar happenings around the country. Supporters of the current President Miloš Zeman have also gathered on the Hradčanské Square to collect signatures supporting Mr Zeman’s candidacy for a second five-year term in office.
A two-day election conference of the ruling Social Democratic Party got underway in Brno on Friday morning. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who ran for the top post unchallenged, was re-elected as party chairman, receiving support from 67 percent of the delegates. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec defended the post of the party's first deputy chairman. In his nomination speech, Mr Sobotka said he was willing to be part of the future government only if the Social Democrats would be able to implement their policy programme. Mr Sobotka warned against a right-wing government, which could be established if the ANO party joined forces with the Civic Democrats.
Czech car-maker Škoda Auto is set to cooperate with India’s Tata Motors in developing vehicle concepts for the India and overseas market. After months of talks, representatives of Volkswagen, Škoda Auto and Tata Motors said on Friday they had signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a strategic partnership in India that would lead to the launch of new vehicles by Tata Motors. According to the press release, Škoda Auto will take the lead of the project on behalf of the Volkswagen Group.
President Miloš Zeman officially announced his decision to run for a second five-year term in office at a press briefing on Friday. Mr Zeman said he would consider it cowardly to abandon the people who supported him, adding that he enjoyed being president. Mr Zeman announced his intention to seek a second term in office to a gathering of his supporters held at Prague Castle on Thursday, marking the anniversary of his inauguration. His rivals for the post so far are lyricist Michal Horáček, businessman Igor Sládek and physician and civic activist Marek Hilšer. Political parties have yet to decide on whether to nominate a candidate of their own. Observers say the 72-year-old Zeman will be a hot favourite in the race.
The average monthly wage increased by 4.4 percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2016, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Friday. Adjusted for inflation, it is an increase by 2.8 percent. The national average for the monthly salary in the Czech Republic currently stands at 29,320 crowns, which is around one thousand euros.
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