Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has been named “Finance
Minister of the Year for Emerging Europe 2011”, an award presented by
Washington-based Emerging Markets magazine. It the second time Mr Kalousek
has received the award: he was also named best finance minister in 2008;
the award specifically covers areas of post-Communist Europe, as well as
other states. In Washington to receive the award on Saturday, Mr Kalousek
called it recognition of the current Czech government and Finance
Ministry’s steps to consolidate public finances. At the same time the
minister reflected on global economic developments and warned that if the
Czech economy worsened substantially next year, sharper austerity measures
would be needed than those currently planned.
In Emerging Market’s press release, the magazine praised Mr Kalousek for “cautious economic management” which it said had won the Czech Republic its recent credit rating upgrade “amid a worsening global outlook”.
The head of the Czech branch of Transparency International, David
Ondráčka, has praised the new law on public tenders prepared by the
Ministry for Regional Development – legislation which has already passed
in a first reading in the Chamber of Deputies. Speaking in a discussion
programme on TV Prima on Sunday, Mr Ondráčka stressed that the bill, as
currently proposed, would introduce needed anti-corruption measures,
including the dissolution of tenders where only a single party applies, or
making public contracts worth more than half-a-million crowns. At the same
time, the TI Czech branch head expressed worries the bill will still see
The Minister for Regional Development, Kamil Janovský - also a guest in the programme - did not answer whether he would stake his political future on the bill in its current form, saying only that more would be known in two weeks – when it will be debated in Parliament again.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said that a new eco-tender – replacing one currently underway aimed at cleaning up environmental damage in the Czech Republic, would save the country tens of billions of crowns. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, he suggested the current super-tender should be broken down into more areas, which would allow more competition and see more advantageous bids. Three firms - Marius Pedersen Engineering, Geosan Group, and Environmental Services - have all bid in the current tender which critics warn could become the country’s largest single corrupt deal.
The news website Aktuálně has reported that former prime minister Jiří Paroubek ended his rental this month of office space in Ústí nad Labem, where he has worked until now as a Social Democrat MP. Aktuálně cited three independent sources who reportedly confirmed the step, suggesting the well-known politician is readying to soon leave the Social Democratic Party, which he led as prime minister and chairman. The former leader did not reply to a query of where he was moving next. Aktuálně writes that - according to sources - he could join the Czech National Social Party (not represented in Parliament) on October 8.
A search helicopter has found the body of a 43-year-old paraglider pilot who crashed on Saturday in the Chrudim area. His wife announced her husband’s disappearance after he failed to return home in the evening. Rescue crews and volunteers searched throughout the night but found only his car and were otherwise not successful. On Sunday, the helicopter that found the man’s body, also uncovered his parachute that had been caught in the trees. A spokesman for the local police force confirmed that the man died on impact.
NATO Days & Czech Air Force Days – the largest air, army and security show in Central Europe – is continuing at Mošnov Airport near Ostrava, in the east of the country. More than 145,000 people have attended the popular show this year. Spectators have been able to view military planes, tanks and equipment close up as well as watch 72 different presentations, including an aerobatic show by the Turkish Flyers.
In the National Hockey League, Ottawa Senator Milan Michálek scored once
and earned an assist in his team’s pre-season match against Montreal on
Saturday. Ottawa won 3:2, after losing 4:3 to the Canadiens on Friday in
the first of their back-to-back match-ups.
In other action, Martin Erat scored for Nashville on Saturday in a 4:3 win over the Winnipeg Jets, while Pavel Kubina scored for Tampa against Florida: Tampa won 5:3.
The head of the deputies club for the coalition party TOP 09, Petr Gazdík, has told the daily Právo that the party is backing Karel Schwarzenberg as an obvious candidate to run for president if direct elections are introduced in the Czech Republic. This week the Chamber of Deputies passed a proposal for the president to be elected by direct vote in the future in a first reading; under the current system the Czech head-of-state is elected in a joint-session of the Senate and the lower house. Mr Gazdík stressed in his interview with Právo that his party would back changes to the election system regardless of whether presidential powers will be changed or left the same. Mr Schwarzenberg, TOP 09’s leader as well as foreign minister, has not yet confirmed he will run, although in past interviews he has expressed an interest.
In related news, others who have been mentioned in connection with presidential bids include former prime minister Jan Fischer and Czech-American economist Jan Švejnar. Civic Democrat Přemyšl Sobotka - on Friday - announced his intention to run. The next election will be in 2013 when President Klaus ends his second and final term in office. But some critics charge that despite this week’s developments, the issue of changing the election system is a non-starter: there is speculation that the coalition and opposition parties will ultimately not be able to agree on changes to the Constitution to pave the way for direct elections.
Police in Ústí nad labem, North Bohemia, are investigating the death of 45-year-old businessman Jiří Čaník, a witness in a case of suspected corruption who was found dead in his home in July, as suicide, Mf Dnes has reported. According to the police, Mr Čaník shot himself in the head; the firearm was his own and was legally-held. A paper trail for millions of crowns, which had been intended for the repair of military barracks, pointed to the late businessman after the company in the original tender declared bankruptcy and some 53 million in state funds went missing. Mr Čaník’s partner has told the local media that they had no money before his death, saying that she had had to borrow from others.
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