Czech energy network suffers overload and calls state of emergency
The Czech electricity network is suffering an overload and has called a state of emergency. The network CEPS, which balances electricity generation with consumption in the Czech Republic, says the overload has led to several blackouts. All large companies are now obliged to minimise their energy consumption. The crisis committee is holding an emergency meeting to find ways of bringing the situation under control.
Centre-right coalition proposes to copy Social Democrats' policy programme
The Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens, who have been trying to form a coalition government, have offered to base their policy programme on the pre-election manifesto of the Social Democrats. The centre-right coalition is one vote short of a majority in the lower house of Parliament and has been negotiating with the Social Democrats to gain their vote of confidence.
Even though the coalition says it would copy the ten-point manifesto word for word, the Social Democrats have rejected the offer and called it a joke. Social Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek accused the coalition parties of using the offer as a "marketing trick". Talks will continue on Wednesday to find other ways out of the political deadlock.
Senators seriously considering dissolution of lower house
Meanwhile, some Czech senators have been drumming up support for a bill that could lead to early elections. Senators will hold a vote on the amendment to the Constitution that allows for the dissolution of the current lower house at a special meeting in August. One third of the Senate, or 27 senators, would have to vote in favour of the bill for it to be approved. The senators who proposed it are reacting to the political stalemate and are hoping the bill will lead to early elections. However, the bill will also have to gain the approval of the President and the lower house.
VAT may be lowered for hard labour services
The European Commission has proposed to allow 17 EU member states, including the Czech Republic, to lower VAT for services that demand hard labour. In the Czech Republic, this would mean that services like construction work, window cleaning, and home care would be taxed at five percent until 2010. The proposal has yet to be approved by the Council.
Vietnamese gang supplying drugs to Roma arrested
Czech police say they have broken up a gang that has been selling drugs to members of the Roma community in the southern Moravian town of Brno. The four men from Vietnam were allegedly supplying heroin to some forty Romany drug addicts. They face up to five years in prison if found guilty of the illegal manufacture of drugs.
Random shooter in Ceske Budejovice residential area
Police are looking for a person who has been shooting an airgun at random in the Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice. At least four people, among them one child, have been shot since Thursday. None of them were seriously injured. The residents of the Maj residential area are scared to leave their homes as the shots are believed to be fired from a window.
The hot and sunny weather is expected to continue in the coming days with daytime highs of up to 35 degrees Celsius, and scattered thunderstorms throughout the country. Meteorologists are predicting that the tropical heat wave in the Czech Republic will continue into August.