The Social Democrats are unlikely to support Finance Minister Andrej Babis in pushing through last-minute changes to the law on electronic cash registers, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists on Monday. Following a stormy cabinet session at which the issue was debated, the prime minister said the proposal to exempt e-shops and small entrepreneurs from the duty to have electronic cash registers would only weaken the legislation and lay it open to criticism from the opposition benches. The proposal sparked fierce controversy between Prime Minister Sobotka and ANO leader Andrej Babiš. The prime minister accused Mr. Babiš of damaging the reputation of the ruling coalition while Mr. Babiš said the Social Democrats had politicized the issue. The opposition centre-right parties say this is further proof that the law is ill-conceived and have called on the government to scrap the entire project.
The Czech Republic will give Bulgaria 20 million crowns to help protect the country’s border with Turkey should Ankara fail to keep its agreement with the EU and let loose a flood of refugees, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said following Monday’s cabinet meeting. The Czech Republic previously donated 25 million crowns to Sofia to help the country deal with the impact of the migrant crisis. The government also earmarked 10 million crowns for Jordan, to help improve conditions in the country’s refugee camps.
The Czech Republic will gradually increase its annual contributions to the European Cosmic Agency ESA, the ctk news agency reported Monday. The government on Monday voted to increase next year’s contribution to 830 million crowns, up from 527 last year, and wants to sustain the trend in the future. According to Transport Minister Dan Tok the country’s higher contributions towards research, particularly in the field of satellite technologies, should help the Czech Republic discard the reputation of being a mere “assembly plant” in Europe.
The European Commission has approved a support scheme for installations producing renewable energy built in the Czech Republic between 2006 and 2012. The Commission concluded the measure would further EU energy and climate goals without unduly distorting competition. The scheme will have a total budget of 836.5 billion crowns over its lifetime (around €30.95 billion).
The Cabinet has approved an amendment to the foreigners’ law which would enable foreign nationals to work in the country for a longer period before needing to extend their visas. Under the amendment the current 90 day period would be extended to 6 months, and in the event of a significant investment project even 2 years. The move comes in the wake of criticism regarding the number of bureaucratic hurdles foreigners working in the country face. The proposed amendment will now go to the lower house for debate.
Leading Czech graphic designer Jan Rajlich, founder of Bienniale Brno, has died at the age of 96. Rajlich devoted himself mainly to applied and graphic design. He was a pioneer of the coordinated visual style and a world-recognised posters creator. The designer received many domestic as well as foreign awards in recognition of his work. He attended the opening of his last exhibition in Zlin chateau just a fortnight ago.
German Volkswagen Group has signed a deal with its Algerian sales partner Sovac for the construction of a vehicle assembly plant in the country, the company informed on its website. The plant, situated in the north east of the country is set to produce around 100 vehicles a day, including the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Ibiza and Škoda Octavia models. According to Škoda Auto, Octavia will be the company’s first model to be produced in Africa. Most of the cars are expected to be sold in Algeria, which is currently the brand's biggest market on the continent.
A major water-main break seriously disrupted traffic in the centre of Prague on Monday, causing long traffic jams along the magistrála, a motorway intersecting the centre of the city. A water pipeline burst in the early hours on Monday, flooding the busy Sokolská street. According to the Prague Water and Sewer Company, repairs on the street should be completed by Monday evening. The Prague Town Hall has called on drivers to avoid going through the city centre.
According to Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, the Czech Army is low in personnel. Speaking in a Czech TV political debate programme, Mr. Stropnický said the Army needs at least 30,000 professional soldiers in the future, with additional 5,000 in reserves. The current target of 27,000 professional soldiers is not sufficient, he said, adding that the Army plans to recruit some 2,000 soldiers this year. The Defence Ministry registered some 22,000 professional soldiers, 6,400 civilian employees and 1,100 civil servants who are subject to the civil service law at the beginning of this year.