Education Minister Josef Dobeš on Friday rejected the idea of a mass lay-off of teachers as inconceivable and said he had received no such information from the Finance Ministry. According to figures released this week the austerity measures would leave the ministry 15 billion crowns poorer in the next two years. Finance minister Miroslav Kalousek responded to the statement by saying that the broken-down austerity package has been dispatched to every ministry with details of how much money each institution would have to save.
Trade unions have criticized the finance minister’s austerity plans for the coming years saying they would stifle economic growth. According to an analysis commissioned by the country’s umbrella trade union organization the proposed changes would bring a drop in investments, soaring prices and growing unemployment. Twenty-four thousand employees from the public sector would have to be laid off –of that 17,000 teachers and 3,500 police officers. Trade unions are proposing a more gradual lowering of the deficit in public spending, suggesting that the deficit be stabilized at around 120 billion crowns. The finance minister has proposed a much faster pace of scaling down the deficit which this year should not exceed 105 billion and is to be lowered by 42 billion crowns next year.
In this week’s Business News: the most absurd bank fee is announced; a study finds that a third of young Czechs are working flexible hours; fears that eurozone unemployment could hit Czech exports; the Finance Ministry is seeking to lure investment funds into the country and Czech Railway cutbacks mean fewer train conductors.
The number of people who have reached retirement age but continue working is on the rise in the Czech Republic. According to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday, their number grew by 11,000 as compared to the previous year. About 157,000 Czechs are working despite the fact that they have reached retirement age. According to experts, the Czech labor market needs at least some older people to remain in the workforce due to the demographic of the country. One in twelve senior citizens over the age of 65 is still working, accounting for 1.5 percent of the labor force.
The Anticorruption Endowment has filed criminal charges against the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Jaromír Drábek, on suspicion of public orders made without tenders. The endowment’s chairman, Karel Janeček, says that suppliers for a number of new programmes at the ministry, such as payment information systems, were chosen without tenders and were companies close to the minister and his deputy, against whom they have also brought charges. The organisation adds that the new systems were created in spite of the fact that it would have been more economical to modify the old software. Unions have said the transfer to the new systems was moreover poorly prepared and that the computer system did not work.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek went before the Social Affairs Committee of the lower house on Wednesday to explain last month’s serious fallout in dispensing well-fare payments. A new computer system introduced within a far-reaching social reform proved highly unreliable leaving many people in the lurch. Charities even handed out emergency food supplies to those who had no money for basic necessities. The minister came under fire from both coalition and opposition deputies who said the task had clearly been underestimated and ill-managed. Mr. Drabek argued that any new system had teething problems and assured the committee that all problem areas had been resolved. He said he would hand in his resignation should there be a repeat of last month’s problems.
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday made a landmark ruling regarding the difference in pensions between the Czech and Slovak Republic. Cases exist where Czechs who worked in the other half of Czechoslovakia now receive the lower pension rate of the Slovak Republic. According to the new decision of the court, such citizens never worked in a foreign country and thus are entitled to compensatory payments to raise their pensions to Czech standards. Among the chaos this creates for the Social Affairs Ministry now is that fact that the ruling directly
Low salaries in the sphere of social services are undermining the quality of care for old, disabled and helpless persons, according to health and social care trade union leader Dagmar Žitníkova. Mrs. Žitníkova warned that there was a massive drain of experienced and qualified staff and if measures were not taken to correct the problem, the system of care for old people would soon break down. Social care workers earn around 10,000 crowns a month, which is markedly below the country’ s average monthly gross salary of 24,000 crowns. Some 43,000 people work in social care services in the 10 million strong Czech Republic.
In Business News: The government debt has reached almost 40 percent of the GDP; unemployment in January rose to 9.1 percent; the Czech state loses an estimated 25 to 30 billion crowns every a year on account of tax evasion; union representatives have rejected a 2.5 percent salary bump offered by car manufacturer Škoda Auto; the sale of winter clothing and apparel – including winter wear for dogs – has jumped markedly in the cold snap.
The Czech Republic’s unemployment rate in January rose to 9.1 percent, up by 0.5 percent from the previous month, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The jobless rate crossed the 9 percent mark for the first time since March last year. However, most analysts expected an even higher surge. The Jeseník district in the north-east of the country registered the highest unemployment rate of 17.8 percent; the lowest, of 3.4 percent was recorded in one of the capital districts.
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’