The lower house of parliament in first reading passed on Wednesday evening the broad outline of the budget for 2017. This counts on a budget deficit of 60 billion crowns next year compared with the approved deficit of 70 billion crowns this year. Opposition parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats failed to push through a proposal to get the approved deficit for next year cut by a further 30 billion crowns to a final 30 billion crowns. Lawmakers can now propose changes within the agreed overall budget and spending and revenue raising limits.
Former top policeman Robert Šlachta has been appointed deputy general director of the Czech Customs Administration in charge of investigations and searches, the administration said on Wednesday. Šlachta was a central figure in the recent row over the reorganisation of elite police units which pitted government parties against each other. He resigned as head of the special police unit for combatting organised crime in June in protest at what he described as a politically motivated shake up aimed at curbing his force’s effectiveness. The customs administration said Šlachta was successful in his application in the tender for its high level job, it previously reported that there were no other candidates.
Political parties in South Moravia have signed a coalition agreement. The deal covers ANO, the Social Democrats, Mayors for South Moravia, and TOP 09 and Žit Brno. That grouping should have 34 seats in the 65-seat assembly. The lead candidate for hejtman or regional leader is ANO’s Bohumil Šimek. Previously the region was governed by a partnership of the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats.
Eleven new destinations will feature in the winter timetable out of Prague’s Václav Havel airport taking effect from October 30. Two new long distance flights to China feature for the first time in the new timetable. As well as that, new services will launch to Tunisia and Radom in central Poland. In total, 105 destinations to 39 countries will be offered out of Prague.
Czech spending on research and development continues to climb and is already at one of the highest levels per capita among new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe. Last year R&D spending rose by 3.6 billion crowns (around 145 million euros) to 88.7 billion crowns, according to latest figures from the Czech Statistical Office. That represented a 4.2 percent increase on the previous year. Czech R&D spending has risen by two-thirds over the last five years. The proportion of spending per capita is second in Central Europe, bettered only by Slovenia.
The Czech Republic has climbed the World Bank’s annual rating of countries for their business environment. In the Doing Business 2017 survey, the Czech Republic is now placed 27th, up nine places on its position a year earlier. The latest position is also the best ever for the country and an advance of 47 places compared with the placing in 2010. One black point in the survey is the red tape needed to get building permits where the country’s performance actually worsened from year to year.
The Czech police inspectorate has called for criminal charges to be pressed against two police officers over an incident this summer when a patient released from a Prague psychiatric hospital went on to stab to death a customer in a superstore. The police officers were called to an incident two weeks earlier when the patient attacked another person in a Prague café. The 33-yearold woman was taken back to hospital but police failed to give staff the information about the attack. Soon afterwards the woman was released from the hospital again and on the same day carried out the knife attack in central Prague.
China has said that it has taken into account a joint statement by Czech political leaders and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs distancing them from the meeting by some Czech politicians with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama last week. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said the statement respected China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the fact that Tibet is part of China. He added though that China would see whether the Czech Republic honoured its words in the future. The Czech joint statement was issued by the president, prime minister, and leaders of both houses of parliament following a private meeting with the Dalai Lama by culture minister Daniel Herman and members of both houses of parliament.
Organisations representing theatres and actors have issued a joint statement entitled We Cannot Keep Silent sharply criticising the Czech Republic’s political elite, in particular President Miloš Zeman. The Association of Professional Theatres and the Actors’ Association condemned a recent declaration from Mr. Zeman and three other senior politicians on the country’s official policy toward China. By giving in to pressure from a foreign power the politicians offended all free-thinking citizens, they said. They also slammed what they called the “vengeful shamefulness” of the president in not giving a reportedly promised state honour to Holocaust survivor George Brady.