Daily news summary News

02-02-2005

President Klaus asks Constitutional Court to evaluate European Constitution

President Vaclav Klaus has asked the Czech Constitutional Court to evaluate whether the European Constitution complies with the Czech constitution. Mr Klaus on Wednesday wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Court, Pavel Rychetsky, asking whether the ratification of the EU constitution ought to be preceded by amendments to the Czech constitution.

President Klaus has been keen to warn Czech citizens of the implications of ratifying the European Constitution, saying it would limit the sovereignty of individual EU member states, especially smaller countries like the Czech Republic. The constitution has also been criticised by the centre-right opposition Civic Democrat and Communist parties.

Minimum wage to be lowered to motivate employment

The Cabinet has decided to lower the minimum wage to motivate people into preferring lower paid jobs to unemployment benefits. The minimum monthly wage, which currently stands at 4,300 Czech crowns (some 180 US dollars), is to be reduced to 2,870 crowns (120 US dollars). If approved by Parliament and signed by the President, the new minimum could be introduced as early as January 2006.

Opposition Civic Democrats to grill Prime Minister over dubious financial assets

The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats have asked Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to explain to Parliament where he got the money to buy his Prague flat. The call comes after Czech media reports that called into question Mr Gross' ability to have paid for the flat on his official salary. The prime minister recently disclosed a net income of the past few years that he said proved he could afford the flat, but was criticised for including various allowances which parliamentarians are allotted to cover expenses such as transport and meals.

Central European Culture Ministers enter agreement without Czech Republic

The Culture Ministers of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Germany have signed a declaration on the foundation of a European network that would document forced migration in the region in the 20th century. The establishment of the foundation, which is to be called Memory and Solidarity, was not supported by the Czech Republic. The Czech Culture Ministry says it chose not to join the initiative as the organisational and financial aspects of the project have not been clearly defined.

Senate Chairman praises Slovak tax reform

The Chairman of the Czech Senate, Premysl Sobotka, has praised Slovakia for its tax reforms. Mr Sobotka, who is currently on a two-day trip to Bratislava said on Wednesday that Slovakia's bold step to introduce a uniform corporate and personal income tax rate of 19 percent is beginning to bear fruit. While the country is attracting ever more investors, the neighbouring Czech Republic is gradually losing them.

Bill Gates in Prague

The founder of the Microsoft Corporation, U.S. billionaire Bill Gates, met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on Wednesday. While the topics of discussion have not been disclosed, Mr Klaus says it was only a friendly gathering. Mr Gates is visiting Prague to introduce the EuroScience initiative to some five hundred government representatives and public officials at the Government Leaders Forum. Under the initiative, Mr Gates plans to speed up European innovation in the areas of science and information technology.

Prague City Hall to double controls on taxi drivers

The Prague City Hall plans to double the number of controls it conducts to ensure that taxi drivers aren't violating regulations and ripping off clients. Prague Mayor Pavel Bem said on Wednesday that the number of controls should increase substantially to reach some 140 this month. Last month, Mr Bem, disguised as a tourist, was charged six times above the normal rate by a Prague taxi driver.

British tourist to receive symbolic compensation

The foreign tourist who was seriously injured when a 25-metre Christmas tree toppled over at Prague's Old Town square in 2003 is to be financially compensated by the city of Prague. The 54-year old British tourist had suffered fractures to both femurs and his spine and must still use a wheelchair. He is to receive 14,000 euros in compensation. Prague Mayor Pavel Bem says it is only a symbolic sum because City Hall did not bear responsibility for the accident.

Weather

Meteorologists are forecasting less snow and more rain with temperatures over the next few days expected to stay below the freezing point and maximum daytime highs of -1 degrees Celsius.

02-02-2005