Three-way talks between the government, unions and employers over the looming crisis in the health sector have so far failed to produce results. Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ government is insisting on planned reforms, but has not reached consensus with the unions. On Friday, they rejected outright a proposed change to legislation which bans extra payments for better health care until standard care, as covered by health insurers, was defined. Otherwise, they said, patients’ fees would skyrocket. The prime minister repeated, after the talks, that the change in the legislation - which the unions say will shift around 10 billion crowns of health charges to patients - was necessary. New talks are scheduled for December, when Health Minister Leoš Heger will table new analysis.
The Czech media has reported that the country’s president, Václav Klaus, would like the government to negotiate a Czech opt-out from the 16-member eurozone, currently hit by debt crisis. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes cited two cabinet members on Thursday on condition of anonymity; the president’s spokesman did not comment. An opt-out would allow the Czech Republic to keep its crown currency even if all conditions for euro adoption were met. The country pledged to join the eurozone after becoming a member of the European Union in 2004.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday reacted to news the president favoured an opt-out (similar to Denmark’s or Great Britain’s) by making clear such a move was highly unlikely. Speaking to the news website iDnes, he stressed that such a step on the part of the Czech Republic would be an artificial political act, one which he considered untenable. The prime minister pointed out that it was up to the Czechs to decide when to adopt the European currency since there was no “set” deadline. The prime minister also confirmed he had received a letter from the president but refused to any discuss details.
Prague City Hall has said it will increase security when city
representatives meet next week. The move comes in response to a planned
protest organised over the social network Facebook. Some 3,000 people
promised to attend a demonstration outside City Hall on Tuesday to protest
the coalition agreed earlier this month between local Civic and Social
Democrats. The deal, which has proven unpopular among many voters, froze
out the municipal elections winner TOP 09 and its candidate for mayor
Zdeněk Tůma. Instead, the Civic Democrats’ candidate Bohuslav Svoboda
is expected to take up the post.
The planned protest has received backing from a number of high profile figures on the Czech arts scene, among them singer Radek Banga of Gipsy.cz and documentary filmmaker Olga Sommerová.
The police have revealed that this week they charged two people in connection with the collapse of a building last October in Prague’s Soukenická street which killed four construction workers: two Bulgarians, a Ukrainian and a Moldavian national. Two hundred fire fighters at the time worked more than 40 hours to try and rescue them. Charged are two construction company employees, aged 43 and 63, the police say. Next week they will release more information. City Hall for Prague 1 has maintained from the outset that the collapse which killed the men was the result of unauthorised work which included the removal of a floor and part of a stairway, affecting the building’s structural integrity.
Czech police are planning stepped up controls of cars with German number plates the daily Právo has reported. The move is expected to start before the holidays. Authorities have denied this is a payback for increased German controls of Czech drivers in recent months. Prague had denounced the German checks as harassment and said they were against the spirit of the European Union’s passport-free Schengen agreement. The Czech police, meanwhile, say the planned steps are aimed at countering a car theft spree across the border in Germany, allegedly involving some Czech citizens.
Firemen in the Western spa town of Karlovy Vary say a drugs production operation went wrong on Friday, setting fire to a four storey house in the town. Two Vietnamese suspects were described as fleeing the scene. They were picked up by the police around 20 kilometres away in the nearby town of Sokolov. Traces of chemicals used for drugs production were found in their car.
Czech Post has said it expects the volume of packages sent during the upcoming holiday season to increase by more than 35 percent – higher than the previous year. A spokeswoman said the rise in volume was related to consumers’ increasing ordering of goods over the internet. In 4Q, the postal service saw a 15 percent increase in internet-order packages alone. Czech Post confirmed it will be boosting service in anticipation of the Christmas rush.
The Czech poet and former dissident who was jailed by Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime Ivan Martin Jirous (aka. Magor),will hold a number of planned readings in North America – his first ever - from December 4 to 11. The poet’s tour will include a talk at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, where he will discuss work from the samizdat days of illegal underground publishing. Mr Jirous, a holder of the Jaroslav Seifert prize, will also attend a concert in his honour at the Czech national building. Scheduled on the tour are readings from his collection for children, to be held at the Czech centre in New York but also at consulates in Chicago, Toronto and the Czech Embassy in Ottawa.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has suffered defeat against World number one Rafael Nadal, who moves on to the ATP World Tour semi-finals. Berdych fought a close first set against the Spaniard on Friday but lost in the tie-break. The second set went almost completely Nadal’s way: the final score was 7:6, 6:1. Had Berdych clinched one set in the loss, he could have maintained at least a theoretical chance of advancing on points; as it is he is out of the tour. Friday’s match-up echoed the two player’s earlier encounter this year in the Wimbledon final.