Prime Minister Petr Nečas has presented the new Czech government’s policy programme to the lower house ahead of a vote of confidence. The coalition of the prime minister’s party the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs has 118 seats in the 200-seat lower house and should comfortably win the vote. The cabinet, which was appointed a month ago, has pledged to balance the Czech Republic’s budget by 2016, reform the country’s pension, health care and university systems, and fight corruption. Mr Nečas told the Chamber of Deputies the reform programme would be pushed through in a manner that was “socially sensitive”, adding that his government would do its best to explain to the public why such changes were needed.
Unions representing police officers and fire fighters are threatening to protest against cuts that are part of a government programme of austerity measures. Speaking at the headquarters of the main Czech union organisation on Tuesday, representatives of both groups said that if salaries were cut by 10 percent in line with across the board reductions in the state sector there could be a mass exodus of experienced officers, putting the security of the state at risk.
A major clean-up operation is underway in parts of north Bohemia hit by flooding at the weekend. Czech soldiers have been deployed to help tackle the damage caused by the floods, which left at least three people dead and thousands of homes without power. The government has earmarked hundreds of millions of crowns for the affected areas and is planning to raise money for a new flood “solidarity fund” through a cut in income tax breaks. Free buses will go into operation on Wednesday to make up for some cancelled train services. Meanwhile, two Romanians and three Poles have been charged with looting following their arrests in the Liberec region on Monday night.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, met his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski on the peak of the Czech Republic’s highest mountain, Sněžka, on Tuesday morning. The two presidents' first meeting came during the annual St Lawrence’s Pilgrimage. Hundreds of people took part in the walk from the Czech side of the mountain, including the head of the Czech Roman Catholic church, Archbishop Dominik Duka, and the chairman of the Senate, Přemysl Sobotka. Members of the Czech and Polish mountain rescue services also take part in the pilgrimage every year.
Nearly 9 percent more tourists visited Prague in the second quarter of this year than in the same period in 2009, according to official figures released on Tuesday. The biggest increase came in Czech tourists, with nearly 25 percent more spending at least one night in the capital in the second quarter. The number of foreign visitors was up by 7 percent during that period.
Nearly 120,000 people saw the new film Kajínek at Czech cinemas in its opening weekend, a new record for a domestically produced movie. A bio-pic about the country’s best known prisoner, Jiří Kajínek, the film took in over CZK 15 million at the box office. The previous opening weekend attendance record for a Czech picture was held by Empties by Jan Svěrák.
Former world cyclo-cross champion Radomír Šimůnek has died suddenly at the age of 48. Šimůnek was the dominant figure in Czech cyclo-cross in the 1980s and ‘90s. After picking up two amateur world titles, he took the professional world title in 1991. In 1992 he was given a suspended sentence for causing the deaths of three people in a car crash. In recent years Šimůnek trained his son, Radomír Jr.
Viktoria Plzeň have returned to the top of the Czech football league. The leaders now have 10 points from four games after a 3:0 away win on Monday over newly promoted Hradec Králové. In the day’s other game, last season’s high flyers Teplice looked set for their first win of the current campaign before České Budějovice levelled the score at 1:1 with just two minutes remaining.
Sparta Prague have signed Štěpán Vachoušek from Teplice on a six-month loan deal in a bid to bolster their midfield ahead of a meeting with Slovakia’s Žilina in the final round of qualification for the lucrative Champions League. He will be able to stand in for playmaker Marek Matějovský, who was sent off in the last round and will miss both legs of the tie, the first of which takes place in Prague next Tuesday. Vachoušek, who is 31, made 23 appearances for the Czech national side.
At an emergency session on Monday the Czech government released 40 million crowns (1.6 million euros) in emergency aid to the Liberec region in north Bohemia, hit by devastating flash floods which claimed at least 3 lives and displaced thousands of people at the weekend. The money is to cover the region’s immediate needs such as temporary shelter for the homeless, disinfectants and clean water supplies. Another 300 to 350 million should be earmarked for reconstruction within the next few days, once approximate damage estimates from the stricken region are available. A thousand soldiers should help with the clean-up efforts in the north of the country.
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