Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said during the meeting in the lower house on Wednesday that the Czech Republic has reservations about security at the southern border of the Schengen Area, in Greece and Italy. He also said the Czech Republic will want the EU to start a mechanism of returning the migrants who were not granted asylum to their countries of origin. The government is meeting on Wednesday to debate the number of migrants the Czech Republic is capable of taking in over the next two years. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec previously said that according to his estimate the Czech Republic would take in several hundred migrants in the next two years.
A bus in the east Bohemian town of Pilsen was shot at on Tuesday night, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told the Czech News Agency. There were some 90 people on the bus at the time of the shooting, mainly foreign workers from nearby factories. None of them was injured in the incident. The identity of the shooter and the motif are now being investigated by the police. Mr Chovanec wrote on his Twitter account that the incident might be an act of political provocation, reacting to the refugee crisis in Europe.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Wednesday approved the abolishment of the second pillar of the pension scheme, introduced by the former centre-right cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Nečas. As of the beginning of next year, clients won’t be able to use it. It is another step in the process of scrapping the second pillar, which enabled people to put part of their pension funds into private insurance companies. Earlier this year, the lower house passed an amendment that prevented new clients from entering the private pension scheme. People who joined it should get their investments back by the end of 2016. Scrapping the second pillar of the pension scheme was one of the election promises of the ruling coalition.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Wednesday approved a government draft legislation proposing to broaden the powers of the intelligence services. Under the draft legislation, intelligence services will have access to information on bank accounts, protected by bank secrecy. It will be available mainly in cases concerning terrorism or organised crime. So far, information could only be provided by the intelligence to the central financial bodies, but not vice versa. The draft bill also entitles intelligence services to data from telecommunication operators, which would enable them to identify the owner of a particular telephone number. The draft still needs to win approval in the Senate.
An amendment proposing to raise excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products has passed through the lower house in its first reading. The first increase in excise tax is set to take place in January 2016, raising the price of a packet of cigarettes by three to four crowns. The price should rise further by one to two crowns in the following years. The amendment will be now assessed by the budget committee of the lower house.
The Czech Republic has seen a marked increase in the incidence of Hepatitis A. Almost 350 people have come down with the infectious disease since January. Last year, it was only 233 people for the same period. The incidence of Hepatitis A, as well as other types of the diseases, increases during summer holidays, when people travel to countries with poor hygienic conditions.
Twenty-six small children and three adults had to be taken to hospital after suffering a slight electric shock in a swimming pool in a summer camp in south Bohemia, a spokesman for the local rescue team told the CTK news agency. None of the injuries were reported to be serious. The kids complained that their limbs were tingling. Most of the children are aged from five to eight. The cause of the accident is being investigated. According to unconfirmed reports water leaked into a power line shaft.
Over a thousand people on Wednesday attended the funeral service for the Czech football legend Josef Masopust at Dukla Stadium in Prague. The famous midfielder passed away last week after a long illness at the age of 84. Among those who came to pay their respects were his former team players, members of the Czech Football Association management and former gymnast legend Věra Čáslavská. As a player Mr Masopust led Czechoslovakia to the final of the 1962 World Cup. He made 63 international appearances and was named the best Czech footballer of the century in 2000.
Thousands of households have been left without electricity after a night storm brought power down power lines around the country on Tuesday night. The power utility ČEZ has called an emergency in five regions. In addition to help from firefighters it is using outsourcing services to bring the situation under control. Rail traffic has also been disrupted by fallen trees.
In women’s tennis doubles, Czech Lucie Šafářová and her US partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands have lost their chance to win their third Grand Slam title of this season, after having won the Australian Open and French Open. Šafářová and Mattek-Sands were beaten in the quarterfinals on Wednesday by the American pair of Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6:3, 6:2. Šafářová was also knocked out of the singles after losing to unseeded American Coco Wandeweghe in the fourth round match on Sunday.
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