The police’s anti-corruption unit have proposed that 12 people be charged in connection with suspicious contracts won by the company Promopro during the Czech presidency of the European Union in 2009. Detectives say the firm overcharged the Office of the Government by almost CZK 400 million for audiovisual services. Among those accused are three former state officials, including the then deputy to Alexandr Vondra, who was deputy prime minister for European affairs when the alleged offences took place. The three face charges of abuse of office and breach of trust, while police say the other accused are guilty of money laundering and fraud.
In Business News this week: European Commission says Czech Republic needs no further austerity this year; Czech central bank cuts growth forecast for this and next year; Finance Ministry launches monitor of public finances; Škoda considers plans to produce utility vans; six Czechs are ranked among dollar billionaires; and groundbreaking travel firm Student Agency eyes Prague’s taxi market.
The cabinet has once again rejected a proposal to maintain the controversial S-Card system for social and welfare benefit payments which came into force in January. The scheme to streamline social and welfare benefit payments to newly-established bank accounts run by Česká Spořitelna has come under fire from all sides and Prime Minister Petr Nečas recently advised the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to scrap the project. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Ludmilla Mullerová, who had repeatedly tried to win approval to keep the S-cards as a form of identification for welfare recipients, said she would comply with the cabinet’s decision.
The anti-corruption police have accused the former head of the Road and Motorway Directorate of the Czech Republic, Alfréd Brunclík, of manipulating rental contracts for two motorway rest areas. The estimated losses for the state, resulting from the manipulated tender, are approximately 120 million crowns. Mr Brunclík filed a complaint against the suit, claiming the accusations against him were ridiculous and unfounded. The police have accused four other individuals in the case.
A new survey released by the STEM polling agency suggests that Czechs, in troubled economic times, largely blame foreigners for the loss of jobs. According to the poll, two-thirds stated there were ‘too many foreigners in the country’ (there are an estimated 438,000) while 45 percent said they were against foreigners being hired. Are jobs actually at threat or is the sentiment xenophobia plain and simple?
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police has launched investigation of IT contracts at the Agriculture Ministry. The police have moved on the basis of a criminal complaint, filed by the country’s Supreme Auditing Office earlier this year. The auditors say that between 2005 and 2011, the ministry spent around one billion crowns on technologies and equipment it did not need, and bought them without a tender as required by law.
In an interview for the Austrian weekly Profil, Czech President Miloš Zeman criticized EU’s numerous regulations. The European Union should not regulate light bulbs, smoking and alcohol, Mr Zeman said. The Czech president also voiced his objections to EU’s bailout for Greece and Cyprus, and reiterated that the Czech Republic should soon adopt the euro.
The European Union will take appropriate steps if the pre-election struggle in Bulgaria threatens the position of the Czech state-owned company ČEZ in the country, the head of the head the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged on Thursday during a meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman. Hynek Kmoníček, the head of the presidential office’s foreign affairs dept. revealed the news a day after the two men met at Prague Castle. "We would like the EU to fulfil its role of the top supervisor on EU standards," Mr Kmoníček told the Czech news agency. ČEZ´s problems in Bulgaria, the CTK noted, began after Bulgarians´ mass protests against high energy bills. Demonstrators demanded the nationalisation of the distribution companies in the country that are owned besides ČEZ by another Czech firm, Energo-Pro and the Austrian EVN. The protests resulted in fall of Boiko Borisov´s right-wing government.
This week in Business News: The construction sector in the Czech Republic is expected to restart growth in 2014; Škoda Yeti was voted the most popular car by British car owners; ČEZ has asked two remaining contenders in the Temelín expansion deal to submit better offers; Economic confidence is down in April, after two straight months of improvement; The Federation of Food and Drink Industries wants to introduce stricter rules on product labeling; Trade unions and employers reach no agreement on minimum wage increase.
The Finance Ministry has announced plans to withdraw 6,000 licences for video lottery terminals which were originally issued until the end of 2014. The move is being made in line with the wishes of individual town halls which aim to cub gambling. The Czech Constitutional Court recently upheld a complaint filed collectively by town halls that attacked an article of the lottery law enabling the finance ministry to issue video lottery terminal licences over their heads.
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New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
The Czechoslovak occultist plot to kill Hitler by magic
Josef Becher – the man behind Czech Republic’s iconic liqueur