The European Commission is planning to cut 12.5 billion crowns in subsidies for two Czech operational programmes, a spokeswoman for the commission said on Tuesday, quoting serious problems with the administration and supervision of the funds as the reason. The planned move will affect the Transportation and Environment programmes which will have to be covered by the state budget; Czech authorities might be however able to use the funds to finance other projects next year. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he had been worried the losses would be even bigger. However, the European Commission is yet to decide whether it will also slash funding for another two Czech operational programmes.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas, who has come under fire for his party’s defeat in the weekend regional and senate elections, has expressed readiness to temper some of the government’s reforms. At a stormy meeting of the Civic Democratic Party’s executive council on Monday Mr. Nečas presented the party leadership with an alternate tax-hike proposal according to which only the lower VAT rate would be raised from 14 to 15 percent next year while the basic higher rate would remain unchanged at 20 percent. The government’s original tax-package that called for a 1-percent hike in both VAT rates was rejected by the lower house of Parliament with the help of six rebels from the prime minister’s Civic Democratic Party. Mr. Necas has also expressed readiness to revise some steps in the area of social welfare benefits.
The Czech food inspection authority seized 7,600 bottles of
methanol-contaminated rum in a warehouse in Zlín, in the east of the
country, after getting tipped off by an anonymous source, a spokesman for
the agency said on Tuesday. He said the methanol-laced alcohol, which was
ready for distribution, could have killed thousands of people. The deadly
beverages were made by the Drak spirits producer whose manager said he did
not understand how it was possible.
The methanol crisis, which broke out last month, has claimed the lives of 28 people who died after drinking contaminated bootleg liquor. The police have charged over 50 people in connection with the case.
Roman Smetana, a former bus driver from Olomouc who is to serve the rest of his sentence for defacing election posters, turned himself to the police on Tuesday. The 30-year-old man, whose case attracted a lot of public and media attention, was sentenced to a fine and 100 hours of community work for adding feelers to politicians on over 30 adverts. He paid the fine but refused to do community work and his sentence was changed to 100 days in prison. He was released in May after 33 days in jail when then justice minister Jiří Pospíšil filed a complaint in his favour. However, the Supreme Court later dismissed the minister’s petition and ruled Mr Smetana must serve the rest of his sentence.
Czech environmentalists on Tuesday criticized a request by a major chemical producer, Spolana Neratovice, to be allowed to use mercury in the production of chlorine until the year 2020. The plant, located in Neratovice, some 30 km north of Prague, was ordered to change its production process by 2014. Environmentalists warn that the plant releases more than 200 kg of mercury into the environment every year. The producer’s request will be reviewed by the Central Bohemian regional authorities.
An appellate court in Olomouc on Tuesday raised the sentence for former MP Petr Wolf from five to six years in prison. Mr Wolf, who joined the lower house in 2006 on Social Democrat ticket but later supported the centre-right government, was convicted of embezzling 11 million crowns of public money. The court also handed him a fine of 5 million crowns and banned him from holding positions in commercial firms for eight years.
The leader of the Czech Republic’s community of Olah Romanies, “Olah
King” Jan Lípa, died on Monday in Ostrava aged 72, the head of the
of Olah Romanies said, adding that Jan Lípa enjoyed great respect among
Romanies in the Czech Republic and the whole of Europe. The late Olah
leader’s funeral will take place in the Ostrava cathedral on Tuesday.
of his sons is set to become the new Olah king, the news agency ČTK
The Olah community, which accounts for around 15 percent of Romanies living in the Czech Republic, is a relatively closed group which has preserved its traditions much more than other Romany groups.
The Czech human rights watchdog Iuridicum Remedium on Tuesday launched an on-line map of CCTVs in public spaces across the country. The NGO said the online map should highlight the fact that despite a rising number of CCTVs I the country, there is no legislation regulating their use. The project so far includes only a small number of existing camera systems but the group has invited members of the public to add their own data on cameras and their locations.
The Czech national football team plays Bulgaria in Prague on Tuesday, in their third qualification game for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The Czechs will keep the same starting line-up – with the strikers Tomáš Pekhart and Jan Rezek – from Friday’s match against Malta which the Czech team won 3:1. The Czechs are ranked third in the qualification Group B, one point behind Bulgaria and three points behind Italy.
The Czech U21 national team drew 2:2 against Russia in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday, in the second leg of play-offs for the U21 European Championships 2013. However, they lost 2:0 in Friday’s first leg which means they were knocked out by Russia. The Czechs pushed for much of the game and came one goal away from advancing when in the 61st minute, Tomáš Wagner scored his second goal in the game, giving the visiting side a 2:1 lead. But the Russians managed to equalize in 83rd minute, setting the score at 2:2.