The Romanian government has decided to limit support for existing renewable energy providers and to halt funding for any new projects. This decision will affect the Czech company ČEZ which owns a wind farm in the country. The energy giant has lost its energy distribution license in Albania in January, and its operations in Bulgaria have been under investigation for the past two months.
The Czech Post is launching a new online service that would provide exact daily gas prices at petrol stations around the country. The postal service created the project with the Industry and Trade Ministry according to the Hospodářské noviny daily, and will rely on the information that letter carriers will gather on their daily routes.
In Business News this week: government plans to tighten rules for firms bidding for public contracts; Parliament releases parties’ accounts for 2012; Telefónica considers selling stake in Czech division; new film incentives programme attracts foreign productions; women’s salaries grow faster than men’s; and every other Czech would struggle to pay unexpected expenses of 15,000 crowns.
The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption, or GRECO, has criticized the Czech Republic over the financing of political parties. In its compliance report on the Czech Republic released on Thursday, the anti-corruption agency said Czech authorities ignored its recommendations issued two years ago, and failed to establish an independent body to monitor parties’ financing and campaigns. GRECO has therefore asked the authorities to file a report on the progress in implementing these recommendations by the end of September.
The ruling Civic Democrats have, for the first time since forming the current coalition, begun to change tack on austerity. The once dominant right-of-centre party, which has taken a hammering in opinion polls, wants to lower taxes for employed pensioners as well as offer new tax write-offs for companies. The plan, however, puts the party at odds with coalition members TOP 09, in charge of the Finance Ministry.
All presidential candidates filed their campaign accounts to the Czech Senate on Friday afternoon as required by law, the news agency ČTK reported. President Miloš Zeman was the last to file his documents which show his campaign owes three million crowns. His spokeswoman said all debts would be settled next week with contributions from his sponsors. Around six million is reportedly owed by another candidate, Jan Fischer. The deadline for filing the accounts expires on Saturday. The Senate’s mandate and immunity committee will have the accounts audited by a private firm; the candidates are also obliged by law to release the documents to the public.
The prime minister’s decision on the S-card project has raised the ire of the coalition party TOP 09 which holds the social affairs portfolio. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek lashed back at the prime minister on Thursday saying the S-card project was viable and deserved support but had failed to get it because the prime minister feared for his political future since his own party had written him off. Prime Minister Necas said he would not respond to stupid, impertinent remarks, but Civic Democrat deputy chairman Jiri Pospisil reacted in anger telling Mr. Kalousek not to pass judgement on Civic Democratic Party affairs.
An audit by the European Commission has arrived at the conclusion that the Czech Finance Ministry is partly to blame for malpractices in the process of drawing of EU funds in the Ustecky and Karlovy Vary regions, Czech Radio said on Thursday. Shirin Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the EU commissioner for regional policy, said the EC audit has confirmed both shortcomings in public tenders and insufficient control by the Finance Ministry. The Finance Ministry last week suspended the payment of European subsidies to the respective regions and expects them to cover the loss from their own budgets.
Unsuccessful presidential candidate Jan Fischer, who finished fourth in the first round of the country’s first direct presidential election in January, is pooling funds to pay off unsettled campaign debts, reports Mladá fronta Dnes. According to the Czech daily, Mr Fischer received a donation of 2 million crowns from lawyer Daniel Palko this week. The head of his election team Jan Pirk said that additional funds would gradually be added. Some creditors to Mr Fischer’s campaign have reportedly already received first instalments.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has openly acknowledged that the government’s S-card project, an electronic system for social and welfare benefit payments, was fraught with problems and should be scrapped. At a joint press conference with Labour and Social Affairs Minister Ludmila Mullerová, the prime minister said his proposal would be put to the cabinet at the earliest possible date. The S-card system has come under fire from the opposition, trade unions, recipients of welfare and even the Ombudsman for burdening those whom it is meant to serve and for leaving their personal data open to possible abuse. The system was criticized as being unethical and possibly even in violation of the Constitution. Some recipients of welfare benefits had threatened to take it to court despite the fact that the government backtracked and made significant concessions.
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New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
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