News Delegates elect Jan Veleba as chairman of Citizens' Rights

29-03-2014 14:26 | Jan Velinger

Members of the extra-parliamentary party Citizens' Rights - Zemanites have elected Jan Veleba as their new chairman. Delegates expressed the hope that Mr Veleba, a senator and former head of the Czech Agrarian Chamber, would turn around the party's flagging fortunes. The Zemanites, who share close political ties with President Miloš Zeman, suffered a debacle in last year's national election, receiving only 1.51 percent of the vote. Speaking on Saturday, Mr Veleba echoed earlier words by the president supporting the creation of a Scandinavian-style social state. Citizens' Rights have taken part in two general elections, but failed both times to make it into the lower house.

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Finance minister opens talks on draft state budget

29-07-2016 12:05 | Jan Velinger

Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has opened negotiations with fellow members of the Cabinet on the state budget for 2017, meeting with the justice, environment and culture ministers. The draft budget is counting on a deficit of 60 billion crowns next year. The bill includes pay rise for teachers, nurses and doctors, higher pensions and higher health insurance payments that the state pays on behalf of children, pensioners and the unemployed. Justice Minister Robert Pelikán told journalists after talks with Mr Babiš that his ministry would get additional 650 million crowns that would be used for increased salaries of court personnel and the hiring of new staff in the judicial sector and the Prison Service. Pelikán originally wanted two billion crowns more in the budget.

The government must approve the budget bill and send it to the lower house of parliament by the end of September. 

Strike at Air France continues to disrupt traffic

29-07-2016 10:01 | Daniela Lazarová

A strike by cabin crew at Air France continues to disrupt traffic. Two flights between Prague and Paris were cancelled on Friday morning. The afternoon and evening flights remain on schedule for the time being. The strike, over a new contract for flight attendants, is expected to last all week. 

People signing petition against giant wheel in Prague

29-07-2016 09:48 | Daniela Lazarová

The inhabitants of Prague are signing a petition against plans to build a 60-metre wheel on the bank of the Vltava River. The Prague 5 district authority has already approved the project and signed a contract with an investor, but the plans have met with opposition from conservationists, members of the public and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová. Since Prague is on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list the wheel cannot be built without approval from conservationists. Over 600 people have signed the petition against the wheel so far. 

PM says doctors and nurses should see salary increases for three successive years

28-07-2016 18:55 | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said his government was planning to raise doctors and nurses salaries by 10 percent for three successive years in order to stabilize the sector and put an end to the ongoing brain drain. The head of government made the announcement during a visit to a hospital in the town of Znojmo. He said the pay hike for next year had already been settled and the government would seek to secure in money in 2018 and 2019 as well, if it won another term in office. 

European Values think tank likens President Zeman to Russian Trojan horse

28-07-2016 17:30 | Daniela Lazarová

The Prague-based European Values think tank has likened President Miloš Zeman to a Russian Trojan horse in an information war. The comparison was made by the think tank’s Jakub Janda within the presentation of a study on Czech websites that serve disinformation purposes. "In the Czech space, Miloš Zeman plays the role of a Russian Trojan horse, systematically embracing and repeating Kremlin’s position on various issues," Jakub Janda, one of the authors of the study, said. The president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček dismissed the allegations as nonsensical saying they were part of an ongoing campaign against the head of state. He further questioned the independence and financing of the European Values think tank. 

Social services to get more funds

28-07-2016 16:26 | Daniela Lazarová

The government has approved an additional 270 million crowns in 2016 to help tide over the country’s social services. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova made the announcement following Thursday’s cabinet session. Regional governments have clamoured for extra funds saying that social services in the regions are severely underfinanced and some are in dire need of help. The money should help predominantly organizations working with the elderly and disabled. In 2016 the country’s social services received 8.5 billion crowns, whereas they would have needed 12.3 billion to cover their needs. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry helped them out earlier with an additional 350 million from its own budget. 

Czechs have high regard for Pope Francis

28-07-2016 15:51 | Daniela Lazarová

An opinion survey in which Czechs were asked to evaluate world leaders indicates that Czechs have the biggest respect for Pope Francis, who received a positive evaluation from two thirds of respondents. More than half of respondents also gave a positive evaluation to US President Barack Obama. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is likewise seen in a positive light. Two world leaders who are viewed negatively are Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose initial popularity with Czechs slumped in the wake of the migrant crisis. 

Online gambling on the rise among young generation

28-07-2016 15:50 | Daniela Lazarová

National anti-drugs coordinator Jindřich Vobořil has warned of a rise in online gambling among the young. In his 2015 report on gambling addictions, Mr. Vobořil said online gambling had become a new phenomenon in the gambling industry. He said there was a dramatic increase in online gamblers among the young with 30 percent of people under 17 saying they had tried it. Earlier this year Parliament approved a law aimed at restricting online gambling which should come into force next year. The national anti-drugs coordinator said a restrictive policy must go hand in hand with prevention and treatment. 

Parliamentary committee hearing on police reform

28-07-2016 14:38 updated | Daniela Lazarová

A Parliamentary committee set up to investigate a controversial reorganization of the police force is hearing evidence from Olomouc’s high state prosecutor Ivo Ištvan and two former elite police chiefs on Thursday, the former head of the squad for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta and former high placed criminal investigator Jiří Komárek. Mr. Šlachta originally asked to be heard by Parliament’s Security Committee saying he had evidence of links between the police and the criminal underworld. He resigned from office over the planned reform which he believes is being undertaken to bring his team of investigators under greater control and undermine their independence. 

Search for nuclear waste storage site continues

28-07-2016 13:29 | Daniela Lazarová

Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek is to meet with the mayors of seven localities which are being considered for a potential nuclear waste storage site. The ministry’s plans to conduct geological tests at these localities have raised a storm of opposition, leading the minister to narrow down the choice to two localities and then expand it back to the original seven after being criticized for the way in which the ministry was conducting the selection process. Talks now appear to have gone back to square one. Minister Mládek said earlier the ministry would not enforce the decision and the nuclear waste site would only be built with consent from nearby localities. The nuclear waste storage site should be built by 2065. 


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