The lower house has passed a bill on public tenders aimed at curbing
corruption and increasing transparency. Under the legislation it would no
longer be possible to "direct" a public tender towards one
company. The bill's authors also hope that announcing tenders on the
internet will lead to a decrease in corruption levels.
Deputies have also voted to strip Civic Democrat Vladimir Dolezal of his immunity. Police accuse Mr Dolezal of acting as a go-between in a bribery affair involving a Prague councillor who is also a member of the Civic Democrats.
A court in the Bahamas has refused to release Viktor Kozeny from custody. Mr Kozeny will remain on remand until January 30th, when a hearing begins into whether or not he will face extradition to the United States. The Pirate of Prague, as he is known, is wanted in both the US and the Czech Republic on charges of large-scale fraud.
A quarter of a million visitors are expected to spend Christmas and New
Year in the Czech Republic, a tourism monitoring agency told
Hospodarske noviny. Most tourists are expected to visit Prague, though
the country's health spas will also do good business in the next couple
Meanwhile, around 12,000 Czechs are planning to spend the festive season on exotic beach holidays, while twice that number will go skiing abroad.
Viewing figures for Prima TV have dropped by around a quarter, since its popular reality show Vyvoleni came to an end a week and a half ago, according to figures released on Tuesday. The station is now watched by around 22% percent of viewers, as was the case before Vyvoleni started. Nova is the country's most popular station, with around 40% of the TV audience.
The remains of Czech General Alois Elias, who was prime minister of the Nazi Protectorate but was later executed by the Germans for his work organising the resistance, have been acquired by the Military History Institute. The cabinet is now deciding what to do with his ashes, which were saved by a friend. The defence minister, Karel Kuhnl, has called for a state funeral with military honours for the general and his wife, who also supported the anti-Nazi resistance.
President Vaclav Klaus has signed a law reducing income tax rates on low and medium incomes. As of next year, people who earn less than 20,000 crowns (830 dollars) a month will save some 4,000 crowns a year. For people with salaries below 30,000 crowns a month, taxes will be reduced by almost 3,000 crowns a year.
The Constitutional Court has ruled that some claims for the return of property confiscated under communism can be made after the end of this year. Both direct restituents and their heirs will be able to make restitution claims after December 31st, which had been set as the final cut-off date. Last month the Social Democrats and the Communist Party voted against a bill to extend the date until the end of 2009.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has said that Pope Benedict XVI might visit the Czech Republic in September next year when he is due to travel to his native German state of Bavaria. Cardinal Vlk had invited the Pope during his last month's trip to the Vatican. The Pope's visit was also discussed by President Vaclav Klaus and the Papal Nuncio to the Czech Republic Diego Causero during their meeting on Tuesday.