Czech people face changes in laws and regulations as of July

July the 1st does not only mark the beginning of school holidays in the Czech Republic, but in several laws and regulations changes have been made that will affect most Czechs. Alena Skodova has the details:

The most important change that will affect all those who live in state flats is the increase of the monthly rent. The question of whether rents should be regulated by the state or not is likely to be a bone of contention in the current coalition talks between the victorious Social Democrats and the centre-right Coalition. Currently rents are still regulated - as of July 1st, they can only be increased by up to four percent. There is no doubt, though, that all the town halls, which own flats, will increase rents as much as they are allowed.

Something else which will affect everybody are new prices of medicines, because a new regulation issued by the Health Ministry envisages that health insurance companies will pay less for certain kinds of medicines. Patients will have to pay the difference between the price set by the producer and the sum paid by the insurance company. The Health Ministry spokesman, Otakar Cerny tried to appease patients:

"The sums that patients will have to pay will not be too high, I must say. It will be a few crowns, not tens or hundreds of crowns. Every physician or pharmacist will provide full information on what medicine to choose, because for each health problem there are always several types of medicines and the patient can choose the cheaper ones."

An amendment to the law on assembly stipulates that in the future, demonstrators will not be allowed to cover their faces with scarves or masks which left- and right-wing extremists often wear as a disguise. If they don't comply with the new law, they can be fined to up to 10,000 crowns. Anarchist activist Jakub Polak says he agrees with the amendment:

"I don't mind, and I think that no one else should who wants to demonstrate his view and is prepared to bear all the risks. He who covers his face is only degrading his form of protest - wearing a mask for me is counter-productive. Covered faces also play into the hands of all kinds of provocateurs."

Money-launderers will receive higher sentences, and the Czech police chief, Miroslav Antl says it will mainly concern drugs dealers:

"In the event of a crime related to drugs, the perpetrator can receive a sentence of up to eight years, which already is the category of especially serious deliberate crimes."

An amendment to the law on prices is targeted for instance at dishonest taxi-drivers. For charging an exaggerated sum, they might pay a fine amounting to a million crowns.