President Miloš Zeman has indicated that he plans to meet the Social
Democrat’s new candidate for Foreign Minister, Tomáš Petříček, in
the near future. Previously, he had rejected the party’s candidate
Miroslav Poche, and the post has been vacant, with Social Democrat Jan
Hamáček leading the ministry in the interim.
PM Andrej Babiš (Ano), who like the president had not backed Mr Poche, is reportedly in favour of the move. However, the foreign minister post appears likely to remain vacant until at least early October 2, the first available time in Mr Zeman’s calendar.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved the draft budget for the year
2019. It counts on a deficit of 40 billion crowns (1.6 billion euros), the
same amount as in the years 2020 and 2021, said PM Andrej Babiš (Ano)
following a Cabinet meeting.
On the expenditure side, the focus is on investment, increasing pensions and raising salaries for public sector workers, Mr Babiš said. Some opposition politicians argued that during a period of strong economic growth, running such high budget deficits is irresponsible. They also said the level of investment was too low.
The government has proposed increasing the average old-age pension by about
900 crowns as of January 2019. The fixed component of such pensions, which
is the same for all and now stands at CZK 2,700, would rise by 570 crowns.
The component reflecting the amount the recipient paid into the system
during their working years will rise 3.4 percent.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (Ano) has said the overall aim is to raise all pension levels – but first to help predominantly those pensioners now living at or below the poverty line. People with small pensions who retired years ago and those who earned less and therefore paid less into the social system will get a bigger hike; those who retired in recent years and have a higher pension would see a slower rise.
Four former senior Interior Ministry employees have been charged with
circumventing the Public Procurement Act and mismanaging state property in
connection to a contract with Fujitsu Technology on the licensing of
Microsoft products amended in 2008.
In September 2016, a Prague court sentenced former deputy labour minister Vladimír Šiška to six years in prison for abuse of office for having signed a disadvantageous contract with Fujitsu Technology on a system for distributing social welfare benefits.
A former director of an Interior Ministry department, Miroslav Duda, had received a three-year sentence, suspended for five years, in that trial. He is among the four ex-employees against whom fresh charges have now been brought.
The average mortgage rate rose marginally in August to 2.53 percent,
according to data compiled by Fincentrum Hypoindex, whose figures are based
on the real values of freshly agreed contracts, including refinancing
In July, the average rate stood at 2.5 percent. Fincentrum chief analyst Josef Rajdl said that over the summer months, no major bank changed its mortgage rate, but a gradual rise is expected in the autumn months.
A new exhibition entitled Architecture in the Services of the First
Republic has just been opened at the National Technical Museum in Prague.
The show highlights around 100 noteworthy buildings dating from
Czechoslovakia’s interwar period, including Prague’s Legiobanka, the
crematorium in Pardubice and the Baťa houses in Zlín.
Alongside structures characteristic of that period, the exhibition also features lesser-known public buildings and private villas. It runs until the end of October.
Prague’s famous astronomical clock will go back into operation on
September 28, St. Wenceslas’ Day. The clock at the city’s Old Town Hall
has been undergoing repairs for several months. Freshly restored statutes
of the apostles will reappear at 6 pm on the state holiday, having last
been seen in early January.
The moving figures will emerge from stained glass hatches that replace metal ones installed in the 1970s, thus restoring that element of the time piece to its original form.
The opposition TOP 09 party plan to submit a resolution calling on the
government to take in 50 Syrian orphans from refugee camps. They will put
the matter to the lower house on Wednesday. The party’s Markéta
Pekarová Adamová said a civilised country should be capable of making
such a symbolic humanitarian gesture.
The move comes after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he was not prepared to take in any such orphans, arguing that children should be helped in the places they come from. Mr. Babiš recently said he would not accept “a single refugee”.