Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on Friday that the EC had taken a positive stand to his proposal for clamping down on VAT fraud. Babiš said the EC had promised to present a draft legislation on reverse charge VAT by the end of the year. The Czech finance minister has sought the go ahead from fellow ministers for the Czech Republic to have the widest possible remit to use so-called reverse charge VAT, where the tax is paid by the consumer and not the seller. He believes that greater use of reverse charge could save the EU a large part of the around 170 billion euros lost every year in unpaid VAT.
Several right-wing politicians, among them Civic Democrat Marek Benda and STAN party head Petr Gazdík, have called on Olomouc State Attorney Ivo Ištván, who supervised the case which brought down the Nečas government, to resign. Gazdík said none of the far-reaching accusations made had been proved in court and the state attorneys on the case should be held accountable.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is to pay a two-day working visit to Austria on June 23-24th, his office announced on Friday. The prime minister will hold talks with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Christian Kern. The talks are expected to focus on European issues, the migrant crisis, transport infrastructure and energy security.
Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek has requested a meeting with the outgoing head of the police’s unit for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta who resigned over the planned reform of the police force. The reform should see his unit merged with that for financial crime and both would come under joint administration. The changes, about which Mr. Šlachta was not informed have met with strong protests and resulted in experienced detectives threatening to leave the force. The reforms triggered a serious crisis within the ruling coalition and talks on fine tuning them are still underway.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobtka has sent British Prime Minister David Cameron a message of support and condolences over the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox on Thursday. Prime Minister Sobotka said he had been deeply shaken by the news which had come as a shock to the entire democratic world. Our thoughts are with her family and children, the Czech prime minister wrote.
The latest version of the state budget draft for 2017 recons with an additional seven billion crowns for the education sector, Education Minister Katerina Valachova told reporters on Friday. She said she planned to ask the cabinet to support a proposed ten percent increase in pay for teachers and a five percent increase for non-teaching staff. Such an increase would meet teachers unions’ demands. The minister, who has made it a priority to improve the status of teachers in the Czech Republic, said she would also push for the government to approve a long-term-development- strategy for the education sector which would guarantee future pay hikes and attract more young people to the profession.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek on Friday presented 16 laureates with the Gratias Agit award for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. Among those awarded this year are former gymnast and legendary athlete Věra Čáslavská, Czech-Amercian writer and illustrator Petr Sís, and ballet dancers Jiří and Otto Bubeníček. Several foreign nationals were recognised as well, including Carlo Capalbo, founder of the Prague International Marathon and a leading Czech scholar in Romania, Anca Irina Ionescu. The awards are held annually in the Great Hall at Czernin Palace – the headquarters of the Czech Foreign Ministry.
On an official visit to China, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday met with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. The talks centred on boosting cooperation in air transport, health care and the financial sector. The Czech prime minister also opened a 16 + 1 summit of Central and East European countries and China. The 16 + 1 talks are accompanied by a trade fair where the Czech Republic has the biggest representation; among the companies exhibiting are Skoda Auto, the Lobkowicz brewery, Alpine Pro and Becherovka.
A Prague district court has once again cleared the former head of office of ex-prime minister Petr Nečas, Jana Nagyová (now Nečasová) of abusing her public position by ordering the army’s intelligence service to spy on Mr. Nečas’ then-wife Radka. The court dealt with the case again following an appeal by the state attorney. As in the previous ruling, the judge accepted the ex-prime minister’s assertion that the intelligence services had merely protected his wife from being followed. The verdict is still not legally binding and may be appealed. Jana Nečasová, formerly Nagyová, was romantically linked to the prime minister and later became his wife. The case exploded in June 2013, bringing down the centre-right government of Petr Nečas.
A gale-force wind has been complicating traffic in the easten parts of the country. Moravia and Silesia report worsened conditions due to fallen trees on roads and railtracks. Firecrews were called to eighty cases overnight and Czech Railways had to arrange for replacement busses on two routes. A gale force wind alert remains in place.