News Finance Ministry plans third VAT rate in 2015
The Finance Ministry is planning to introduce a third rate of value added tax in 2015, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said. The rate, whose level has not yet been determined, should be lower than the existing rates of 21 and 15 percent, respectively, and should apply to drugs, books, and baby food. The Finance Ministry also wants to make tax collection more effective by establishing a central registry of bank accounts and retail receipts. Details of the Finance Ministry’s plans are yet to be debated within the coalition parties; for its part, the opposition said they would increase the overall tax burden and would make tax evasion easier.
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Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger ended ninth in the Tour de France on Sunday, his fourth top 10 placement. He was just under six minutes off the winning time of Chris Froome. Kreuziger moved up to 10th place overall from 12th on Saturday after coming sixth in the stage after an aggressive move to break free of the pack. He was helped by fellow team member, Slovak Peter Sagan. Kreuziger’s best ever placing in the tour was fifth in 2013. He had previously been placed three time in the top 10.
Bonus payments to top ministerial staff in the first half of the year rose to total 280 million crowns, according to Czech Radio. That is around 20 million more than in the previous six months. The government has defended the payments saying they are deserved. Most of the bonus payments in ministries total between 20,000 and 30,000 crowns. The Ministry of Transport stands out with bonus payments there averaging around 55,000 crowns over the latest period. Such payments are covered by the civil service law.
The population of lynx in the Šumava forest has fallen to around 65 and is in severe danger according to the latest estimates of an environmental group. Around 15 years ago the population was estimated at around 100. The latest estimate was released by the group Hnuti Duha which for many years has been tracing the evolution of the population and is currently holding an international conference in the Šumava region dealing with the topic. Illegal hunting and trapping and car accidents are believed to be the main causes of the sharp drop in the population.
Police have launched an appeal for help after a newly born baby was found dead at a plastic sorting facility in Prague on Saturday night. The baby had apparently suffered a violent death. It was probably delivered in a container from Prague or Central Bohemia. Police have asked to be contacted if anyone noticed suspicious circumstances such as a woman in late stages of pregnancy who appears to have given birth but has no child.
Czech weather forecasters are warning of severe storms in West and South Bohemia, South Moravia and Vysočina on Sunday afternoon and evening. Winds could reach up to 70 kilometres and hour and heavy rain total up to 30 litres per square metre. The warning applies to the whole of the Czech Republic on Monday and Tuesday with the likelihood of severer downfalls in some areas.
Changes to the Czech civil service law are being prepared in an attempt to streamline recruitment and fill many gaps in ministries and other state bodies. The current procedures are regarded as overly complicated and time consuming. At the moment there are many vacancies in government departments. The Ministry of Justice is one of the worst cases with around 100 vacancies, comprising around 50 lawyers and a dozen IT specialists. Selection procedures often last up to three months or more. The civil service law was brought in after the Czech Republic dragged its heels for years in meeting EU demands that it put in place a professional civil service.
The Ministry of Interior is working on a new set of rules over unpaid police overtime, according to Czech Television. The rules are likely to continue the practice that police can be called on to work for free during exceptional or crisis situations. Police overtime has been a cause of friction in the past with the police winning a Supreme Administrative Court judgement over excessive and free overtime. Police say the situation has since improved generally but for some special units, such as that tasked with protecting state figures and embassies, there has not been much change.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said no Czechs are believed to be among the victims of a shooting spree at a shopping centre in Munich, Germany, on Friday evening. Nine people were killed and the gunman, believed to be a 19-year-old German-Iranian, then turned the gun on himself. Around 21 people were injured. Czech police stepped up police patrols in shopping centres and increased border security after the incident. The motive for the attack is not yet known. The increased Czech border checks were cancelled Saturday.
A ceremony and commemorative events marked the 150th anniversary on Saturday of the ceasefire between the Austrian Empire and Prussia at Mikulov castle in South Moravia. The ceasefire signed at the castle in the presence of the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck brought to an end the short lived but bloody conflict between the two powers. The decisive battle was fought at Hradec Králové. An exhibition at the castle includes the table where the ceasefire was signed. The war established Prussia as the leading Germanic power in Europe.
Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec said on his Twitter account Saturday that there is no suggestion that a specific terrorist or other threat applies to the Czech Republic at the moment. He added that the latest information from Germany was awaited after the Munich shootings on Friday evening. A meeting of Czech interior ministry, police, and security service officials is scheduled on Saturday afternoon to evaluate the security situation. At the moment a level one security alert applies to the country. That has been in place since the Brussels attacks in March. A one to four, with four the highest, security evaluation is in place.