Czech president Miloš Zeman late Wednesday dismissed ANO leader Andrej Babiš as finance minister and installed ANO member of parliament Ivan Pilný as his replacement. Zeman said that Babiš had performed in the post during the previous three years and four months like none of his predecssors. He added the ANO leader was probably the subject of envy which was often the problem of successful people. In a last change, Zeman made ANO environment minister Richard Brabec a deputy prime minister, a post previously filled by Babiš. The finance ministry change was demanded by prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka over the ANO leaders alleged suspect financial dealings.
ANO nominated regional development minister Karla Šlechtová has clashed with the ANO leader and outgoing finance minister Andrej Babiš over the ministry’s proposed budget for next year. According to the proposal, the ministry’s budget will fall from 16 billion crowns to 4.7 billion. Most of the fall is due to European funds. Without those, the budget would only fall by 2.0 billion crowns. The minister has said that the proposal does not take adequate account of regional development of the country and will hurt councils in particular. The budget for most ministries and government agencies should rise under the 2018 budget proposal.
The lower house of parliament has agreed to create an investigative committee to look into the possible leaking of police documents in connection with outgoing finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babíš. The seven person committee will focus on suspicions that police documents were leaked in connection with tapes which purportedly showed Babíš talking with a former reporter on one of his national newspapers about how to use information discrediting other politicians. Babíš, who stepped down as finance minister on Wednesday, described the move as part of an ongoing campaign against him.
The Czech Republic has named its second diplomat tasked with boosting Czech innovation and research. The appointee is Luděk Moravec and he will be based in the United States. He has already identified security and energy as two areas where there is a great potential to boost cooperation with local US companies and agencies. The first such Czech diplomat was posted at the end of 2015 to Israel. Germany and South Korea have been picked out in the past as countries where other innovation ambassadors could be sent.
In football, the Czech daily Sport has reported that Italian Andrea Stramaccioni has been signed up for a two year deal to be the head coach of Sparta Prague. The paper says the club will announce his arrival on Tuesday. Stramaccioni has been manager in the past of Inter Milan, Udinese, and Greek club Panathinaikos. He is reported to have set his immediate goal for the next season to win the Czech league title and qualify for the initial group of the Champions League. Sparta will finish third in the league.
The lower house of parliament on Wednesday approved a government proposal paving the way for the switch to a new digital television frequency and making room for the expansion of high speed mobile internet. The switch should be completed by 2021. The proposal has been controversial with satellite tv companies saying that Czech households will be landed with costs of around 5 billion crowns for new tvs and set top boxes. They also argue that the proposed law represents substantial and illegal state aid to the country biggest tv frequency provider, České Radiokomunikace.
The Czech Constitutional Court has refused to recommend changes to the country’s public health insurance rules in the face of claims that they discriminated against foreigners. Two aspects of the existing rules were being challenged which affected Ukrainians giving birth in the Czech Republic and the care of the newly born children. In both cases, the mothers are faced with the costs of care themselves. The court ruled that it was not exceptional that insurance rules and coverage varied according to citizens links with the state.
Confidence in the Czech economy fell by 0.2 percentage points in May to 97.2 points compared with the previous month. Expectations for the outlook in the near future also fell by 0.2 points to 94.9 points, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Wednesday. Consumer confidence was unchanged month on month. Overall across the board confidence in the Czech economy is higher in May than a year earlier.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that no Czechs were killed or injured in the Manchester terror attack. The attack on Monday night killed 22 people, of who two were said to be Poles, and injured at least 59. The British interior minister said the young man who is believed to have carried out the attack was probably not acting alone. Britain late Tuesday rose its security alert to the highest level amid concern that another attack could be pending.
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