The Social Democratic Party has suggested lowering the value-added tax on fuels after the cost of petrol and diesel fuel reached record highs this week. A survey showed the popular Natural 95 being sold for over 40 crowns per litre at stations around the country. The party’s shadow industry minister Milan Urban said soaring fuel prices would reduce the competitiveness of Czech firms and severely burden family budgets. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has rejected the proposal, saying it is nonsensical to artificially reduce fuel prices. He moreover pointed out that EU member states were bound by a 2005 agreement not to take such measures.
Ronald Adams, the chief executive officer of the Tatra truck company, who was recently arrested on suspicion of bribery has filed a complaint against the charges brought against him. Mr. Adams, who was later released on a court order is charged with offering a bribe to win army contracts. The main witness against him is reportedly Martin Barták, a former defense minister who himself is accused of corruption in a case in which Mr. Adams is a witness. Lawyers representing the Tatra truck company boss say the charges against him are an attempt to discredit him and claim that his detention was in violation of the law.
Lawyers representing the former central Bohemian governor David Rath have filed a complaint against the 14 million crown bail set by a district court. They argue that the amount is excessive in view of the charges against him and effectively prevents his release. Mr. Rath’s family and supporters have failed to raise the sum. The bail has also been challenged by the state attorney on the grounds that there are legally valid reasons to keep him in custody pending trial.
The corruption charges against former defence minister Vlasta Parkanova remain in place after the Supreme State Attorney’s Office rejected her complaint against the proceedings. Mrs. Parkanova has been charged with mismanagement of state funds and abuse of office in connection to the purchase of CASA military planes for the Czech army, a contract that independent auditors deemed severely overpriced. Mrs Parkanová herself says her conscience is clear. If convicted she could face up to ten years’ imprisonment.
The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry has merged the foreign branches of the state run agencies CzechInvest and CzechTrade into a single network of trade missions. The merger is part of a new export strategy that defines 12 priority countries for Czech exports and so-called areas of interest covering 25 countries. The country is seeking to boost exports to Brazil, China, India, Iraq and the United States, among others. By the end of 2013 the Czech Republic should have 70 offices in 56 countries the world over.
Flagging confidence in the Czech economy revived for the first time in five months in August, the Czech Statistical Office reported on Friday. The joint indicator of business and consumer confidence increased to minus 3.6 from minus 3.8 in July, while the business-confidence indicator rose to 2.4 from 2.3, while the gauge for consumers improved to minus 27.3 from minus 28.3.
Sociologists and NGO representatives taking part in a panel debate on Thursday night expressed the view that more women in politics and in high managerial posts would help reduce the high level of corruption in the Czech Republic. They said that women in general have a greater sense of fair play and are more inclined to play by the rules; they are also thought to be less capable of running risks and of committing fraud. Corruption is perceived by the public as being the country’s biggest problem.
Prague’s Drop-in centre for drug addicts has temporarily lost its home base and will operate from an ambulance in the coming months. The ambulance will park in a different part of Prague every day of the week. Prague City Council is assisting the centre to find a new permanent address that it can afford. The centre which helps addicts and arranges methadone substitution therapy was set up in 1991. There are estimated to be from 10,000 to 14,000 hard drug users in the Czech capital.
The Czech Food Inspection authority has ordered a grape-seed product sold in health food stores to be taken off the shelves after it was found to contain a large amount of pesticides. The product called Virde Citrus Paradisi, recommended as an immunity-boosting food supplement, was imported from Ireland by Biomedica. People have been asked to return the product to the store where they bought it. The purchase will be refunded.
The police are questioning a man who was detained in the centre of Prague in the night hours with a bag full of marihuana in his possession. The man was reportedly seen wondering in Stupartska street with dried marihuana plants poking from his luggage. The police were alerted to him by the characteristic smell of the plant.
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