Former Czech prime minister Jan Fischer, who led the country’s caretaker government between 2009 and 2010, is going to publish a book of memoirs later this month from his time in office. Entitled Yes Prime Minister or A Misaligned Country, the book recalls, among other things, Mr Fischer’s dealings with the former leaders of the two strongest Czech parties, Mirek Topolánek and Jiří Paroubek, whom he refers to as Hugo and Boss. Former statistician Fischer, who went on to become a vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development after his term expired, also shares his memories of some world leaders as well as the turbulent times during the ratification of the EU’s Lisbon treaty.
In line with the position of the Czech government, the Czech Senate rejected on Wednesday an EU-proposed bank tax that should help rescue defaulting banks. The Senators said the measure would be a disadvantage to European banks that would transfers the new costs on their clients. Members of the upper chamber of Parliament said they want the debate to focus on curbing “moral hazards” of financial institutions, rather than on creating new funds and approving new taxes.
Czech energy companies are in uproar over government moves to cushion the bill for a solar power boom in the country. Basically, the energy companies are bearing the brunt of frantic government moves to raise cash so that inflated electricity prices are not passed onto households and businesses. The power companies are livid, saying the government has not just moved the goalposts, it has changed the game.
Investors in solar energy are threatening lawsuits if the state goes ahead with a planned withholding tax intended to reduce electricity prices next year. According to the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association, the measure will harm 1,450 firms and generate lawsuits of 260 billion crowns, ultimately costing the state 168 billion more than it will receive from the tax. The Ministry of Industry, however, is standing by the plan, saying it should return the profitability of solar investments within 15 years. The government hopes the 26% tax should keep energy price rises to 5.5% for both households and businesses. The expense of solar energy production is blamed for the increases, which were initially expected to reach up to 20%.
Slightly over half of the households in the Czech Republic say they enjoy financial security, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency. Students, entrepreneurs and families of three or more people feel the most secure, the poll suggests, while 37% of households said they were suffering from financial problems, particularly those who are unemployed, who have only basic educations, families of manual labourers and retirees living alone. STEM indicates that the numbers of people who feel financially secure is growing in the long term. 41% reported financial security in 2004 and the statistic has hovered at around 50% since 2007.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas has helped to torpedo proposals for tax
harmonisation in the 27-strong European Union at a two day meeting of
European leaders in Brussels that ended on Friday. The Czech prime
said he took a leading role in opposing proposals from Finland for greater
tax harmonization. The broad-based proposals called for a step by step
harmonization of taxes that would counter harmful tax competition between
countries. Tax issues are overwhelmingly dealt with by national
at the moment though accusations that some countries offer special tax
deals, for example to companies in a bid to attract investment and jobs,
has sporadically fuelled calls for a clampdown.
The Czech Prime Minister also welcomed the fact that no decision was taken to sign what he described as a “blank cheque” for EU countries that encounter severe financial problems such as Greece. Government leaders will resume discussions in December about the format of a new mechanism to help such countries.
EU leaders have agreed at a summit in Brussels on limited changes to the Lisbon Treaty aimed at protecting the bloc’s economy. The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, is cool on the idea of amending the document, saying it would be better to find a simpler way of creating a new crisis management system. Mr Nečas has also criticised a proposed increase in the EU’s 2011 budget, saying in a time of austerity the Union too should keep spending down.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill on the 2011 state budget in its first reading. Following the vote, in which the budget won support from 109 coalition MPs, Prime Minister Petr Nečas thanked the house for supporting the government’s reform drive and a responsible fiscal policy. The draft budget for 2011 envisages a public finance deficit of 135 billion crowns or 4.6 percent of gross domestic product. The acting head of the opposition Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka said his party would not try to hold up the bill’s passage through Parliament despite the fact that he considered it to be one of the worst draft budgets in the country’s history which would negatively impact growth in 2011. The bill needs to pass through three readings before going on to the Senate and being signed into law by the president. With its comfortable majority in the lower house the governing coalition has enough votes to push its through.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott