Prague City Hall and the construction firm Metrostav have failed to resolve the controversy over the Blanka tunnel complex under construction in the Czech capital. Metrostav recently warned it would cease further construction work on December 7 over unpaid bills. City Hall said it had stopped further payments after having found that the contract on building work was legally invalid. Metrostav claims it is owed 2.1 billion crowns and is handing the matter over to an arbitration court. Prague City Hall had hoped to reach an out-of–court settlement in order not to jeopardize one of the city’s largest building projects.
Electricity prices for households are expected to drop by 10.9 percent on average in 2014, while the regulated component in the price of gas should drop by 5.9 percent, the Energy Regulation Office reported. CEZ clients can expect the biggest price drop of around 12 percent, Pražská Energetika has announced a 9.5 percent drop while E.ON will effect an 8.8 percent price reduction.
In Business News this week: household energy prices to fall markedly in New Year; poll find most firms have experience of dodgy tenders; percentage of part-time job rises – but still lags EU; Czech e-tailers mark Black Friday; more shops selling fake goods, say inspectors; and 4 percent of Czechs don’t possess mobile.
The head of the ANO party in the Vysočina region, Jan Sobotka, will not become member of Parliament as a replacement for an ANO MP who stepped down. Mr Sobotka told reporters on Thursday he would reject the seat in the lower house over a failure to file his tax returns, and a debt in his health insurance payments. Mr Sobotka was to replace another party official elected on the ANO ballot in the region who had resigned over his past as a member of the former communist military counter-intelligence. The chairman of the ANO deputies’ group in the lower house said they would thoroughly screen the next person on the ballot who’ll replace Mr Sobotka.
Prague’s court of appeals on Thursday lowered the sentence for Czech fugitive Radovan Krejčíř by six months to 10.5 years in prison. The court however also issued a fine of three million crowns for Mr Krejčíř; if he fails to pay it, he will face another year and a half in jail. Radovan Krejčíř was last year sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. The Czech businessman fled the country in 2007, and has since settled in South Africa where he was arrested last week on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder.
The Social Democrats and ANO have agreed on two key positions as part of ongoing talks on forming a coalition government with the Christian Democrats. After a meeting at Průhonice near Prague on Saturday, negotiators said ANO would fill the post of minister of finance, while the Social Democrats would get the position of speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. The chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, says Jan Hamáček is in the frame for the latter post, though ANO have not indicated who their choice is for finance minister. Party leaders said they had also made headway on the divisive issue of taxation. The Social Democrats got 20.45 percent of the vote in elections four weeks ago, with ANO coming second on 18.65 percent.
An investigation by the anti-corruption police unit uncovered no proof of corruption or other wrongdoing in the financing of Jan Fischer’s presidential campaign. Mr Fischer, the finance minister in the current interim government, came under suspicion after unpaid debts were resolved quickly following his naming to the cabinet in July. The case was shelved by the state prosecutor overseeing it, Jan Lelek, after the police failed to produce evidence a crime was committed. He told the Czech News Agency he expected the police would do the same.
Czech travel agencies expect that the price of package vacations to foreign destinations will go up by around 10 percent, according to Czech Radio’s Regina. Agencies are reacting to recent intervention to weaken the Czech currency by the central bank in a bid to stimulate consumer spending prior to increases, help exporters and overall boost the economy. Travel agencies are reportedly trying to keep the prices of so-called ‘first minute’ vacations the same.
Trading firms’ obligation to check their business partners’ VAT records has won the Absurdity of the Year award, the organizers said on Thursday. The respective legislation, which came into force last year, was supposed to curb tax evasion. However, critics say the state in fact transferred its responsibility for tax collection onto private companies which have to make sure their business partners have paid the value added tax. If they fail to do so, the companies face the risk of themselves having to pay VAT for their business partners. The 7th annual Absurdity of the Year awards also highlighted the fact that the Czech authorities reject tax returns in the pdf format.
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