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.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said that the Czech Republic will not join the European Banking Union, which was agreed on on Wednesday night by European heads of state. According to Mr Nečas’ statement, the Czech Republic has no reason to do so yet. Sweden, Poland and Hungary are also considering not joining the union at this point.
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.
The Czech Republic might no longer insist on vetoing the eurozone’s planned banking union, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Wednesday. The Czech government opposes the plan over concerns it could rid the Czech central bank of its authority over foreign banks’ Czech subsidiaries. But Mr Kalousek said that if new legislation proposed by the EU legal service is approved, these concerns would no longer be justified and the Czech Republic would no longer be opposed the planned banking union. EU leaders are set to discuss the issue at a meeting in Brussels at the end of the week.
The Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský is planning to lodge a legal complaint against the system of checks for the unemployed called DONEZ, which will come into effect starting January. DONEZ requires people registered as unemployed to appear at public administration centers a few times a week. The measure is meant to prevent people who receive unemployment benefits from working illegally. Mr Varvařovský believes this constitutes an excessive encroachment on human dignity.
The Czech GDP fell by 0.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, and by 1.3 percent year-on-year, the Czech Statistical Office confirmed on Friday. This means the Czech economy has been in recession since the end of last year, which some analysts say equates them to the most indebted south European countries like Greece and Spain.
In Business News this week: Czech real wages continue to fall; few Czechs plan to join a new pension system; Qatar Airways and Korean Air are interested in acquiring Czech Airlines; apartment prices expected to decrease next year; Czech spas going through hard times, and Czech architects win competition to build monument to victims of slavery in Senegal.
Few of the government’s social reforms have aroused as much opposition as the controversial S-Card system; a new electronic system streamlining social and welfare benefit payments which is to come into force in January. In the face of growing opposition from left-wing parties, the National Disability Council and even the Ombudsman, the centre-right government has now promised to amend the law which would make S-Card payments mandatory for everyone concerned.
The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, will on Wednesday present the cabinet with information on which international airlines have expressed interest in taking over Czech Airlines, or ČSA. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday that the information would only concern possible interest in taking part in the privatisation of the Czech national carrier; price and other aspects would be addressed in a future phase of the process. A previous attempt to sell off ČSA in 2009 was not successful.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czech pop music legend Karel Gott dies at the age of 80
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott