The prime minister, Petr Nečas, says that government cost-cutting
measures could cause growth in the Czech economy to slow by 0.6 or 0.7
percent next year. Speaking on a TV debate programme he said, however, that
the cuts were necessary – otherwise debts would pull the country’s
economy down in the medium term. Mr Nečas’s coalition government has
pledged to balance the budget by 2016. To achieve this, it plans to reduce
state sector salaries and expenditures by 10 percent, cut social welfare
and limit support for building savings.
The Czech National Bank predicts GDP growth of 1.8 percent in 2011, while the Finance Ministry is more optimistic, foreseeing growth of 2.3 percent.
Prime Minister Nečas has raised doubts over the introduction of a solidarity fund to deal with the effects of flooding in the future. Following floods in north Bohemia two weeks ago, the minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, said all working Czechs would contribute to the fund in the form of a CZK 100-a-month cut in income tax breaks, a move some critics slammed as nothing less than a new tax. On Czech Television on Sunday the prime minister said he was now considering whether to go ahead with the plan, adding that the money to deal with flooding ought to be found from other sources.
Speaking on the same television show, Prime Minister Nečas confirmed that Ivan Hodač was a candidate for the newly created post of state secretary for European Union affairs. Mr Hodač has been the head of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association for nearly a decade. The prime minister said there were two other serious aspirants for the post, with the chosen candidate due to be announced in a few weeks’ time. The filling of the post, which would succeed the deputy PM for EU affairs of previous governments, has ruffled some feathers in the governing coalition. The foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, told the newspaper Lidové noviny that if Mr Nečas’s party the Civic Democrats wanted a car lobbyist, it was their issue.
A woman of 20 was found by a neighbour with a knife sticking out of her throat in a corridor of her apartment building in the Prague suburb of Stodůlky on Sunday afternoon. She is now in a serious condition in hospital, a police spokesperson said. There have been media reports that the woman’s boyfriend is a suspect in the attack.
A 34-year-old man was shot in the leg by an unknown assailant while floating on the River Vltava in Prague on Sunday. Police said the shooting occurred around noon in the suburb of Sedlec. The man and another foreigner were fishing from a rubber dinghy when shots rang out from the bank of the river. The victim has been taken to hospital and police are investigating the incident.
Around 500 bat experts from around the world are gathering in Prague for the 15th International Bat Research Conference, which gets underway in the Czech capital on Monday. The first such meeting was held in Prague in 1968, though it was marred by the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. Accompanying the conference will be the launch of a new publication mapping the bat populations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the broadcasting of a documentary made in collaboration with Czech Television.
The management of Sparta Prague football club have fined captain Tomáš Řepka in connection with an alleged drink driving incident. The sanction was imposed days after a Czech tabloid reported that Řepka had got into his car and driven home, despite being inebriated. Sparta refused to say how much the player was fined. Recently the former Czech international, who is known for being hot headed, was banned for three games for spitting at an opponent.
Viktoria Plzeň have maintained their lead in Czech football’s first division after a 1:0 win over Sparta Prague in the capital on Saturday evening, with the only goal of the game coming from Petr Jiráček on the hour mark. That result follows a defeat for Sparta in the Champions League in mid-week and puts more pressure on manager Jozef Chovanec, who has blamed the title-holders’ poor form on injury problems.
Sunday is the 70th anniversary of the death of the renowned soldier and writer Rudolf Medek. Medek was an officer in the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia during World War I, and became well known thanks to his stories set against that backdrop. He fought in the Battle of Zborov in 1917 and later negotiated with both the Russians and the Western Allies before organising the return of the legionnaires to the newly founded Czechoslovakia. His novels were banned by both the Nazis and the Communists.
A new book about how the Communist authorities targeted young men with long hair in the 1960s was launched at the Open Air Festival in the east Bohemian town of Trutnov on Saturday. Entitled Vrat’te nám vlasy! (Give Us Our Hair Back!), it maps in detail how the Communists used the state security apparatus to repress long-haired men in 1966. At the launch, poet and former dissident Ivan Martin “Magor” Jirous, who spent 8.5 years in jail under communism, said the book described the pre-history of a group of alternative youths who later contributed to the launch of the Trutnov festival as an underground event in 1987.