News Finance Minister: Budget could be balanced by 2017
The Czech Republic could be running a balanced state budget by 2017, the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, said on a Czech Television politics show on Sunday afternoon. The ANO party chief said for that to be achieved planned tax collection measures would have to be successful. This year’s budget is running at a deficit of CZK 112 billion while the centre-left government is proposing a deficit of CZK 100 billion in 2015.
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The Czech crown strengthened to the euro briefly on the Greek “No” vote breaking through the 27 crown margin set by the central bank and selling at 26.80 to the euro. Within an hour it returned to its former level at 27.12 crowns per euro. The ctk news agency says it is not clear if the central bank intervened on foreign markets. The bank has been keeping the crown in check with forex interventions since 2013 and says the interventions will continue until 2016.
The Czech Republic is marking the 600th anniversary of the burning at stake of reformer priest Jan Hus with numerous events highlighting his legacy. President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will attend a celebratory mass at Bethlehem chapel in Prague, where the reformer priest preached. The chapel had a new bell cast in Hus’ memory which will first ring on the 600th anniversary of his martyr’s death at the stake. Over the past two days people have been able to attend theatre performances, debates, concerts and film screenings dedicated to the reformer priest and on Monday night a candlelit procession from Old Town Square to the Vltava River will pay tribute to his memory.
The Greek "No" in Sunday’s referendum will not improve the negotiating position of the government of Alexis Tsipras, according to Czech economists. David Marek, from Deloitte, said the "No" vote was a sad result. The Greek government and citizens are mistaken if they believe that by rejecting the bailout terms they will achieve softer conditions, Marek said, adding that the opposite is true. Marek said there is only one alternative to the rescue plan - the Argentinian path, the state declaring itself bankrupt, high inflation and lowering of the living standard. Lukáš Kovanda, from the Roklen financial group, said the position of the European Central Bank in providing cash for Greece would most likely worsen due to the "no" vote, which considerably increased the possibility of Greece leaving the euro zone. If the ECB decides that the guarantees that Greek banks provide in exchange for the loans are not sufficient, a banking collapse is likely to come and Greece will have to issue its own currency, even if only as a temporary alternative to the euro, Kovanda said.
An outdoor seating arrangement known as Havel’s Place was unveiled in the west Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary on Sunday as a tribute to the late Czech president. The event took place within the framework of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and was attended by Vaclav Havel’s widow Dagmar. The seating arrangement – made up two garden seats with a round table and a linden tree to cast shade -was designed by Bořek Šípek, a celebrated Czech artist and architect who was a close friend of Havel's and has already been set up in memory of the president in nine countries around the world. The very first was unveiled in Washington D.C.
Greeks chose the worse option in Sunday’s referendum, Czech Prime
Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in response to the news that Greece had
overwhelmingly rejected the conditions of a rescue package with creditors.
The prime minister said the Greeks had chosen the more difficult road not
just for themselves but for the whole EU and noted that, despite the
valiant efforts of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, it would be
near impossible to keep the Greeks in the Eurozone against their will.
On the other hand, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who recently noted that Greece should go bankrupt in order to „clear the space“ said that Greece should never have been admitted to the Eurozone in the first place since it is not just a monetary but an economic alliance.
Opposition TOP 09 deputy chair Miroslav Kalousek said that Greece had bought its ticket out of the Eurozone, while Civic Democratic party deputy chair Jan Zahradil said this should serve as an impetus for the EU to create a legislative framework which would allow Eurozone members to leave the alliance.
The Czech Republic is marking the 600th anniversary of the burning at stake of reformer priest Jan Hus with two days of events highlighting his legacy. They include celebratory masses, concerts, theatre performances and, in Prague, outdoor events in the vicinity of Old Town Square which is dominated by the newly-renovated statue of Jan Hus. Bethlehem chapel, where the reformer priest preached has had a new bell cast in his memory which will first ring on Sunday, on the anniversary of his martyr’s death at the stake.
Albanian police have arrested a man suspected to shooting dead two Czech tourists in the northern part of the country on Friday. The tourists were shot on a mountain road near the town of Skadar on their way to a tent camp. The gunman then pushed the car with the dead bodies down a ravine to make it appear an accident. The twenty-six-year old man suspected of the murders was released from prison just a month ago after serving a five year sentence for armed robbery in which a small child was killed.
The Czech police force is to set up a new cyber crime squad in October, Czech public television reported citing Police Presidium spokeswoman Jana Macaliková. Presently cyber crime is dealt with by regular officers but since the amount of cyber crime has seen a steep increase the police is to get a specialized unit which should deal with such cases faster and more efficiently and cooperate closely with similar units abroad. The cases of cyber crime registered by the police reached 2,500 cases with the damage estimated at one billion crowns in 2014, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent.
The ANO party of the centre-left governing coalition continues to outstrip its rivals in popularity polls, according to the results of a survey conducted by the TNS Aisa agency. Despite a slight drop in support ANO would currently win general elections with 27 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition would come second with 19.5 percent and the Communist party would place third with 13.5 percent of the vote. The opposition right wing TOP 09 party would come forth with 10 percent of the vote and the right wing Civic Democrats would get 8.5 percent. The junior party of the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, would only just cross the 5 percent margin needed to win seats in the lower house with 5.5 percent.
The government will meet on Wednesday to debate the number of migrants that the country would be capable of taking in over the next two years, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told Czech Television on Sunday. The minister said that the overall number would be smaller than the 1500 people which the country would have been allocated in the event of quotas. According to the present arrangement EU member states are to take in between 40 and 60 thousand migrants on a voluntary basis in order to alleviate the burden on Greece and Italy. Minister Chovanec said that according to his estimate the Czech Republic would take in several hundred migrants in the next two years. The issue is to be debated at a meeting of EU interior ministers later this month.