The introduction of new civil service legislation by January 1, 2015 is not an ultimatum set by the European Union and a postponing of the deadline could still be negotiated, the Czech candidate for European commissioner Věra Jourová said on Thursday in an interview for Czech TV. She made the statement as it remains unclear whether the coalition government will succeed in pushing through its amendment in the lower house, even though it has a majority, due to the right-wing opposition doing its utmost to preventing a vote on the amendment from taking place. The opposition TOP 09 and Civic Democrats say they will not stop blocking the session unless the coalition accepts a number of changes to the amendment. The ruling coalition Social Democrats, ANO and Christian Democrats discussed the matter on Thursday.
The opposition Civic Democrats have slammed the centre-left Czech government over what they called a diversion from the country’s policy of supporting Israel. The party criticized the fact that last week, the Czech Republic was one 17 countries that abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel’s actions in Gaza. Civic Democrat chair Petr Fiala demanded explanation from Foreign Minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, and said Israel deserved the Czech Republic’s full support. In a reaction, Minister Zaorálek said the Czech position on the UN vote had been coordinated with other EU member states.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is opposed to a special law on the Šumava national park tabled by a group of Senators and approved by the upper chamber. Speaking after a meeting with the minister of the environment, Richard Brabec, Mr. Sobotka said he favoured general legislation on the country’s national parks that has been drafted by the Ministry of the Environment. It would make more parts of four Czech national parks accessible to the public. The government is due to discuss the Senate bill on Wednesday; it was approved despite criticism from environmental groups and contradicts the Ministry of the Environment’s draft legislation.
The Czech government is to sign a deal with the South Korean company Hyundai Mobis on the construction of a four billion crown plant for the production of car headlights in Mošnov, north Moravia. The construction of the plant should start in summer 2015, and be finished in nine to ten months. It is expected to create around 1,000 new jobs in an area where unemployment is traditionally high. Hyundai, which has promised to invest into the local infrastructure, will be eligible to corporate income tax relief for ten consecutive years.
The Czech Republic has won an international arbitration against the firm Diag Human, Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček said. The company took the country to arbitration in 2008 over its allegedly thwarted blood plasma business int eh coutnry. The Czech Republic was originally ordered to pay eight billion crowns in compensation to the firm but the Czech government appealed the decision and the final ruling, delivered to both parties last week, awards victory to the Czech Republic, according to the Health Ministry. However, the firm disputes the minitry's claims, arguing the ruling in fact confirmed the original verdict. The Health Ministry said it would release details on the case next week.
The Czech police tapped the phones of two journalists as part of their investigation of the 2009 purchase of the Austrian-made Pandur armoured vehicles for the Czech military, the daily Právo reported on Saturday. The investigators tapped the phones of reporters for the newspapers Právo and Mladá fronta Dnes in 2011 in an effort to determine the origin of leaked documents in the case, the daily said. The police, which acted with the consent of the court, also tapped the phones of several top police officers and prosecutors, according to the report. The Czech army in 2009 bought 107 Pandur APCs for 14.4 billion crowns. Marek Dalík, a former aide to then prime minister Mirek Topolánek, faces criminal charges over allegedly demanding a bribe from the producer of the vehicles.
The head of the ANO movement, Andrej Babiš, vented disgust in the media on Friday over the recent behavior of some in the lower house, saying he would prefer to resign as an MP if he had a capable successor. The finance minister was reacting to the handling of a fuel tax reduction bill for farmers on Wednesday, which was modified by a fellow coalition MP and former minister for industry and trade to be across the board. The bill, which initially passed but was subjected to a new vote on Friday following a complaint, would have thrown a spanner in government plans. The opposition Civic Democrats say they will petition the Constitutional Court over the matter.
Milan Komárek will step down as the head of the country’s anti-corruption and financial crime unit on July 31st, his superior, Police President Tomáš Tuhý, told reporters Friday. Komárek took over as head of the unit last June and oversaw the founding of team Kobra, targeting tax crimes. Before, he had worked as a regional deputy chief of police in Central Bohemia. Police President Tuhý said he respected Komárek’s contribution and made clear the unit head was stepping down for personal reasons. The job will be filled in the interim by deputy head Jaroslav Vild. A successor should be found by the autumn.
The Chamber of Deputies on Friday voted anew on a bill aimed at lowering the excise duty on fuel. This time MPs voted down the proposal, which first passed in the lower house on Wednesday - to the surprise of the ruling coalition. One of its members had inserted changes into the bill that lowered the tax on petrol and diesel across the board rather than just for farmers, which would have negatively impacted the state budget. After another coalition MP on Wednesday, however, challenged the result, arguing his vote had been incorrectly recorded by the electronic system, a new vote was scheduled. The centre-right opposition, which had threatened to petition the Constitutional Court if a new vote was held, walked out of the chamber.
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