Environmental activists have criticized the government for failing to provide guarantees in its policy programme against the lifting of limits imposed on brown coal mining in north Bohemia. Representatives of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth said they were deeply discouraged by the fact that the new centre-left administration had vetoed a proposal by the environment minister, Richard Brabec, to protect villages in the north from the threat of industrial expansion. The mining limits were imposed in the early 1990s and have frequently come under attack from politicians and industry leaders who argue that at a time of growing unemployment jobs should be a top priority.
The new centre-left Czech government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats have approved their policy programme. In the document rubber-stamped on Wednesday night, the coalition pledges to support business and job creation, make the state apparatus more efficient and transparent and foster social cohesion. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government will seek confidence in the Chamber of Deputies next Tuesday.
The police on Thursday arrested controversial Prague businessman Ivo Rittig and three other people, including his attorney. They have been charged with money laundering, Prague High Attorney Lenka Bradáčová said. The case is related to the alleged siphoning of funds from Prague’s city public transport company, the news website idnes.cz wrote. The firm is reported to have bought tickets from anonymously owned companies whose beneficiary is Mr Rittig. He allegedly received a cut from each ticket sold. The controversial businessman also figured in a police operation that led to the fall of the government last June.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved its policy programme for the coming four years, outlining a vision on the basis of which it will seek a vote of confidence in the lower house next Tuesday. The center-left coalition promises to support economic growth, create new jobs, make public administration more efficient and foster social cohesion.
The police have charged former prime minister Petr Necaš with bribery in connection with a jobs for the boys scandal that led to his downfall last June. Three MPs in his party, the Civic Democrats, who threatened to bring down the government over tax legislation later received lucrative posts at semi-state enterprises. They were remanded in custody on bribe-taking charges but later released under parliamentary immunity. Mr. Necaš denies any wrongdoing and says he has been charged in retaliation for a complaint he took against the head of the police’s unit to combat organized crime.
The centre-left coalition government should approve its programme priorities at a special evening session of the Cabinet on Wednesday. A last minute rewrite of the document is taking place to include some of the points raised in a meeting with employers and trades unions on Tuesday. Radical changes from the existing coalition deal between the three parties are not expected. Some of the main themes of the programme are promises to boost the creation of new jobs, make the state apparatus more efficient, improve education, and foster social cohesion. Leaks of the programme suggest that the government will also pledge to meet all the conditions for adopting the single currency euro.
The police have charged former prime minister Petr Nečas with corruption. The case is related to a bribery scandal which toppled his government last June and investigators say it could re-define the rules of political deal-making. Mr Nečas, meanwhile, considers the charges a revenge for a lawsuit he filed against the police.
The new government is planning to amend its programme statement to take on board comments from union leaders and employers, the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said after a tripartite meeting with both groups on Tuesday. Following the talks, the president of the Confederation of Industry, Jaroslav Hanák, said it was still unclear how the coalition aimed to finance its plans. The cabinet aims to approve its programme on Wednesday before seeking confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on February 18.
The parties of the ruling centre-left coalition have finalized their policy programme statement on the basis of which they will seek a vote of confidence in the lower house on February 18th. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Monday distributed copies of the policy statement to his coalition partners ANO and the Christian Democrats, ahead of a tripartite meeting at which they are to discuss the document with trade unions and employers. The cabinet is to meet on Wednesday to give the policy statement its final approval.
The Plzen branch of the Civic Democratic Party is losing more members following the departure of former justice minister Jiri Pospíšil. Mr. Pospíšil, who was a leading figure of the party’s Plzen branch for 14 years, announced his departure last week citing loss of support from the party’s central leadership. Ten more party members have left in his wake and others are expected to follow. The Civic Democrats suffered a humiliating defeat in October’s general election following a corruption scandal that brought down the Civic Democrat-led, centre-right government last summer.