Former deputy labour minister Vladimir Šiška and the former head of the ministry’s IT department Milan Hojer have been charged with bribery and abuse of office in connection with a dubious public tender. The police suspect Šiška and Hojer of trying to bribe the OK system company with the promise of a 100 million crown public order if they withdraw their complaint against the ministry at the anti-trust office. The two men were detained and briefly held in custody in October 2012. The scandal resulted in the resignation of then labour minister Jaromír Drábek.
Changes of government in the Czech Republic are generally accompanied by a shake-up in the country’s civil service. Although the Rusnok caretaker government has not yet won a vote of confidence in the lower house, a change-of-guard in the top and middle ranks of civil service administration has already been launched. So how politicized is the country’s civil service and how is that affecting the running of the state? A question I put to political analyst Jiří Pehe.
Less than a third of Czechs return rested and relaxed from their holidays, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by zamestnanci.com. According to the poll results only 28 percent of respondents said they felt reinvigorated after their time off, as compared to 39 percent in 2008. The poll revealed that Czechs increasingly opt for shorter holidays, mostly for the duration of a week, and many of them remain on-call, dealing with pressing work issues over the phone. They also try to pack as many sights and destinations into that brief time as possible, often leaving them exhausted upon their return.
The former centre-right government of ex-PMPetr Nečas handed out a record 250 million crowns in bonuses to ministerial staff shortly before leaving office, the daily Lidové noviny writes. The sum is reported to be three and a half times bigger than that which government employees received in the same period last year. Former ministers have dismissed the idea that the bonuses could be interpreted as a golden handshake at the end of their three-year-term in office, saying there had been more work for everyone following a streamlining of the administration. The Rusnok cabinet which was appointed to office earlier this month has already replaced public officials at key posts in several ministries.
In this week’s Business News: The minimum wage will rise in August; Food prices in 2012 grew by a larger margin than in any other EU country; Czech Airlines has withdrawn from its contract with the unions; Fuel prices around the Czech Republic have gone up again; Škoda has signed an almost 1 billion crown contract to deliver trams to Bratislava.
In this week’s business news: Unemployment falls; Czech Banking Association releases bleaker economic outlook for 2013; more Czech companies are moving to tax havens; Moravia Steel receives large fine for collusion in Germany; Kofola is considering expanding into Balkans; and government debt decreases in Q2.
All 14 ministers in the freshly sworn-in Czech government have assumed their posts. On Thursday, Dalibor Štys took over at the Education Ministry, said he would not go ahead with a reform of the university system planned by his predecessor unless it gets sufficient political backing. The government officials inducted into office on Thursday included Minister of Labour and Social Affairs František Koníček, Justice Minister Marie Benešová, Health Minister Martin Holcát, and others.
Many ministers of the outgoing centre-right government have refused an invitation from President Miloš Zeman for dinner at Prague Castle on Monday, in what is perceived as an obvious snub to the head of state in the wake of recent developments. No ministers from the TOP 09 party will be present, according to the CTK news agency, and Karolina Peake the head of LIDEM, the smallest party in government has also refused the invitation. It is not clear how many Civic Democrat ministers may show up. The centre-right coalition has criticized the head of state for ignoring the fact that the centre right parties collected 101 signatures -a majority in the lower house – in support of their nominee for prime minister Miroslava Němcová. They accuse Mr. Zeman of forming his own “puppet” cabinet.
Prime minister designate Jiří Rusnok has filled three more ministerial posts in the emerging caretaker cabinet. Outgoing defense minister Vlastimil Picek, who has received an offer to continue in office, has agreed to do so. Jiří Cienciala, the rector of the Ostrava School for Entrepreneurs, is to head the Industry and Trade Ministry while the former chief inspector of Czech Railways Zdeněk Žák will lead the Transport Ministry. Mr. Rusnok has not yet filled the post of finance minister and there has been speculation he may be considering former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer for the post. The post of environment minister is likewise still vacant. The new cabinet is to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Natural scientist and the head of research and development department at the education ministry, Dalibor Štys, will become the next education minister in the caretaker government of Prime Minister Designate Jiří Rusnok. Since being given the task of putting together a caretaker cabinet last Tuesday by President Zeman, Mr. Rusnok has secured 10 ministers, though key positions remain unfilled, including the posts of the minister of finance and minister of industry and trade. Mr. Rusnok is hoping he will complete the list of names by the end of the week, or Monday at the latest, so he can take it to the president next week for confirmation. His choices for ministers have been criticized on both sides of the aisle in the lower house of parliament, who say the technocrat cabinet is made up of friends of the president, not experts.
Prague WHO chief: The worst aspect of the coronavirus? The panic surrounding it
Czech Republic bracing for wind storm Sabine
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
Ron Perlman: Cinema is a much bigger art-form than superhero movies represent
Wind storm Sabine hits Czech Republic