The Senate voted not to deliberate on a bill stipulating salaries for federal judges and tax regulations for lawmakers. The bill thus automatically passed through the upper house and will be going straight to the president to be signed into law. According to the bill, judges’ salaries will be calculated as 2.75 of the national average salary, instead of the current 2.5, as of 1 January. The monthly salary for a judge would thus come out to under 63,000 crowns. The legislation also exempts members of the parliament from paying health and social insurance on their salary bonuses. The bonuses will still be taxable.
The Czech Telecommunication Office is set to lower operator charges for mobile calls between different operators to a maximum of 41 hellers per minute, compared to the current 55 heller limit. In the middle of 2013 the upper limit should go down to 27 hellers. The decrease of the operator charge should lower the final cost of the calls, although that decision is up to the individual operators.
Interest in precious metals and stones in the Czech Republic, is reaching new highs, either for personal use, in the form of jewellery, but in the form of bullion as an investment. Czechs this year alone, for example, spent more than three billion crowns on gold bars, even though the price of the precious metal has almost doubled over the last two years.
The Czech Republic this year failed to meet two out of four criteria set by the EU for the adoption of the single European currency, the euro, according to a report by the Czech National Bank and the Finance Ministry. Due to a hike in the VAT rates, the Czech Republic did not meet the criterion of price stability. It also exceeded the three-percent limit on government budget deficit which is expected to reach percent of the GDP this year. The Czech Republic meets the remaining two conditions – government debt below 60 percent of the GDP and long-term interest rates. Although bound by its EU accession treaty to adopt the euro, the Czech Republic has set no date for doing so.
President Václav Klaus on Friday signed into law government legislation that raises the two VAT rates by one percentage point to 15 and 21 percent, respectively. The legislation comes into force on January 1. The package also includes a seven-percent hike in income tax for high earners and cancels tax brakes for economically active retired people. The Czech government based the state budget for 2013 on revenues from the tax hikes; Mr Klaus signed it into law despite his objections; earlier this year he said raising taxes at a time of recession was an “economic suicide”. Analysts estimate that on average, the hikes will cost Czech families around 1,000 crowns each year.
The Czech Telecommunications Institute will take more steps to regulate the country’s mobile services market, the institute said in a press release on Friday. The regulator found little competition on the market and said the four existing operators acted co-ordinately to keep up relatively high prices for mobile calling and other services. The institute wants to facilitate the entry of so-called virtual operators on the market, and is planning to introduce stricter regulation of whole-sale prices. A spokesman for Telefónica O2, the largest mobile operator in the country, said the firm would respect any decision by the regulator but said its assumptions were ungrounded as prices for private end users had decreased by nearly 40 percent of the last five years.
Following a vote in the lower house, the Czech Republic’s two VAT rates should increase on January 1. However, if the president – a critic of the change – doesn’t play ball, the bill cannot come into effect, and, with very few working days left before the New Year, that uncertainty represents a major headache for Czech businesses.
The Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday approved changes to the Czech Republic’s VAT rates that will come into effect next year. The Senate had previously rejected the plan to raise the basic VAT rate to 15 percent and the higher rate to 21 percent. The legislation now goes before the president, Václav Klaus, who has criticised the change. If Mr. Klaus does veto it, a previously approved single VAT rate of 17.5 percent would come into effect in January, raising the prices of foodstuffs, medicines, health supplies and other items. At present the country has VAT rates of 14 and 20 percent.
France's Areva is aiming to continue its fight to be included in a lucrative tender for the completion of the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant, Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes reports. According to the daily, the firm sees the manner in which it was excluded from the tender as problematic and far from standard procedure. Areva representatives say the price offered by the firm was in order and stress the company will push its case even at the highest instance court. Thomas Epron, Areva's regional head for Central Europe, said the French company had provided guarantees in supplied documentation that the final price of Temelín´s expansion would not exceed a certain level and the cost of the project, between 200 and 300 billion crowns, would not see manifold growth. ČEZ spokesman Ladislav Kříž told the paper that Areva´s bid had failed to meet defined criteria on a number of points.
The Czech Republic took 17th place among EU member countries in terms of its GDP per capita for last year, according to figures released by Eurostat. It improved by one place from the previous year, moving ahead of Greece. The Czech Republic has lower GDP per capita than three of the 12 newest EU member states – Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia.
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