The lower house of Parliament has passed a bill aiming to curb the boom in solar power. The bill envisages a 26 percent tax on subsidies and an increase in charges for land leased for the location of solar panels. Government efforts to support clean energy with generous subsidies backfired as a result of excessive interest which looked set to trigger a steep rise in electricity prices in 2011. The government is now trying to find the money to offset the increase among others by leveling a tax on emissions permits.
An amendment to the foreigners’ law, passed by the lower house on Tuesday, would require biometric data for residence permits. The bill which still needs to win approval in the Senate, envisages the abolition of the foreigners’ police and a transfer of the agenda to the interior ministry as of January 2011. The move would save over 200 million crowns. The amendment also obliges employers to take on more responsibility for the foreigners they employ.
Seventy-three percent of small and medium sized Czech firms say they have had sensitive data stolen by their own employees in the past two years. Security tests which are now underway in some 200 firms indicate low security and poor protection of personal and classified data. IT experts have criticized the fact that smaller companies often try to save money on security systems which they say is particularly dangerous at a time when many firms are having to lay off employees.
A British tourist who was injured by a falling Christmas tree on Prague’s Old Town Square in 2003 is to receive further compensation from Prague City Hall and the firm found to have been responsible for the accident. Malcolm Tuffin, who suffered spinal injuries and was confined to a wheelchair for a month, fought a long court battle for compensation. He received just over half a million crowns in 2007 but filed a fresh complaint in view of the gravity of his injuries. A Prague court has now ordered Prague City Hall to pay him a further 1 million crowns. The Prague authorities and the firm which organised the Christmas market originally refused to accept responsibility for the accident, filing a number of appeals until the Supreme Court found them guilty of negligence for failing to secure the tree properly.
Environment Minister Pavel Drobil has said the Czech Republic would not press for a bigger commitment on greenhouse gas cuts at the upcoming climate change conference in Mexico, stressing instead the need to involve big polluters such as the US and China in the effort. Following consultations on the subject with President Vaclav Klaus, a strong opponent of the fight against global warming, Mr. Drobil said the Czech Republic would officially request an analysis of the impact of anti-global warming measures on the economy. The environment minister has received much praise from President Klaus for the change of course he implemented at the ministry which the president described as “a return to sanity”.
The parents of nine-year-old Anna Janatkova, who has gone missing since October 13, have issue a fresh appeal to the public offering a three and a half million crown reward for their daughter to whoever brings her home safely or helps find her. The nine-year-old failed to return home from school in Prague’s Troya district and has not been heard from since. A massive police operation in the vicinity of her home proved futile and hundreds of calls from the public and ESPs have failed to provide a clue as to her whereabouts. Police reportedly suspect a kidnapping that may have gone wrong.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta has had his drivers’ license suspended for a period of six months and been ordered to pay a fine for violating traffic regulations. The minister, who has had his license for two years, was found to be driving a brand new car without a valid license plate. He told journalists he accepted full responsibility and would not be appealing the decision. Mr Bárta is the first transport minister ever to have been punished for violating traffic regulations. Upon taking office he said he would not tolerate double standards.
The Supreme Administrative Court on Tuesday ruled that ticket inspectors have the right to detain passengers who are caught travelling without a valid ticket. The case came to court after a passenger got into a fight with a ticket inspector who tried to detain him until the arrival of police. The ruling has set a precedent in favour of inspectors, since many similar incidents occur daily with passengers who refuse to produce an ID or pay a fine.
The former head of the Czechoslovak constitutional court, prominent Slovak lawyer Ernest Valko was shot dead in his home late Monday, a Slovak interior ministry spokesman said. The police have declined to provide further information pending an investigation. Valko, 57, served as the chairman of the constitutional court in 1992 before former Czechoslovakia split up in 1993. Before that, he was deputy chairman of the lower chamber of parliament. Several Slovak politicians and civic representatives expressed shock over the murder Tuesday.
Sparta Prague have kept up the pressure on leaders Viktoria Plzeň with a 4:1 win over bottom-of-the-table Ústí nad Labem in the final game of the 15th round of the Czech football league. Monday’s result means that Sparta – who are defending champions – remain nine points behind Plzeň at the exact half-way point in the 2010-2011 season. Viktoria Plzeň have never taken the league title and next year is their centenary.