Representatives of the Czech agriculture and food industry have warned against devastating effects a planned hike in VAT might have on the country’s farmers and food processors. The head of the Federation of the Food and Drink Industries, Miroslav Toman, told Czech TV on Sunday if the government goes ahead and raises the VAT rate to 19 percent, the industry might shrink by up to 20 percent as a result, while food prices will increase by some 25 percent, according to the head of the Czech Agrarian Chamber, Jan Veleba. The center-right government is considering raising the VAT to 19 percent to make up for falling tax revenues.
The car that crashed off Hlávkův bridge in the centre of Prague on Saturday and plunged into the Vltava River belonged to the protective services division of the Czech police, Czech TV reported on Sunday. The division is in charge of protecting government and other officials. The driver of the car remains in hospital in serious condition. The accident occurred when two cars crashed at around 5:30 PM on Saturday ; one of the vehicles broke through the railing and plunged into the river; its driver was rescued after some 25 minutes under water. Police have asked any witnesses to contact them.
Traffic police in southern Moravia on Sunday launched a second day of road checks focusing on tourist buses returning to the Czech Republic from Austria, Slovakia and other countries further south. Random checks, which began at the borders crossings at Hatě, Mikulov and Lanžhot at 6 AM, reportedly take between 15 and 30 minutes. The police first launched these checks on Friday, days after police in Austria took off the road a ramshackle Czech bus which was missing one of its four rear wheels.
For a third day in a row, Czech environmental activists continue on Sunday their campaign of physically blocking certain areas of the Šumava National Park to prevent the logging of bark beetle infested trees. The Czech branch of the Friends of the Earth, which organizes the protest, says the park management has failed to obtain an exemption required to cut in the most protected parts of the park but it had some 3,000 trees marked in the area for logging. The campaign began on Friday; however, no loggers reportedly showed up to fell trees in the areas in question.
Police are looking for witnesses of an accident in Prague in which a car crashed off a bridge and plunged into the river. The accident occurred when two cars crashed on Hlávkův Bridge in central Prague at around 5:30 PM on Saturday. One of the vehicles, broke through the railing and plunged into the river; its driver was rescued from the water only after some 25 minutes, and is in hospital in critical condition. Passers-by who witnessed the accident told rescue workers there were more passengers in the vehicle; however, rescue workers called off the search after only the driver was found inside. Police have asked any witnesses to contact them.
The 6th World Shakespeare Congress got underway in Prague on Sunday. The six-day event, held under the auspices of Czech President Václav Klaus, is entitled “Renaissance Shakespeare: Shakespeare Renaissances”. The congress is organized by the International Shakespeare Association together with Prague’s Charles University and the National Theatre, will draw some 600 literary historians, theatre experts, historians and other scholars to the Czech capital, including the leading Czech Shakespearean expert, professor Martin Hilský.
Czech Center in New York has launched a competition to choose the author of street banners that will decorate the building of the Czech mission to the UN on Madison Avenue. The organizers set no specific theme for “Windows on Madison” as the series will be called; however, it should explore today’s social, cultural or environmental topics, Ivana Siglerova from Czech Centers said on Sunday. The competition is open for Czech artists as well as those who reside in the Czech Republic; the deadline for entries is September 11.
Czech motorcycle racer Jakub Kornfeil finished 13th in the 125ccm class of the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring on Sunday, winning three points in the World Championship series. The Czech rider showed good performance and moved up 17 places from the 30th position on the grid. A month before the Czech Grand Prix in Brno, the 18-year-old Czech racer ranks 11th in overall standings of the season.
The organizers of the prestigious German Quadriga Prize cancelled on Saturday this year’s award ceremony following an outcry by a number of international figures including former Czech president Václav Havel who protested against Russia’s Prime Minister Vladmir Putin receiving the award. Mr Havel, who received the prize in 2009, had threatened to return his award if the Russian official is given the prize, the German news website Deutsche Welle reported on Saturday. Mr Havel has reportedly asked the Quadriga jury to reconsider their decision which had surprised and disappointed him. The Czech daily Lidové noviny reported on Saturday that another Czech recipient of the prize, the head of the humanitarian NGO People in Need Šimon Pánek, was considering the same move.
The Czech government might increase the VAT rate to 19 percent, while at the same time retaining a lower VAT rate for medicines, books and other printed materials including newspapers, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday. The government is considering the move to make up for lower tax revenues that have been collected so far this year. The prime minister said the hike could be temporary until a balanced state budget is reached by 2016. While supported by Mr Nečas’ party, the Civic Democrats, as well as the coalition TOP 09 party, the junior coalition partner Public Affairs oppose the idea. The centre-right Czech government originally planned to introduce a single VAT rate of 17.5 percent to pay for an overhaul of the pension system.