Czech press survey July 30


30.07.2014 07:49

Prague - It would be strikingly unjust if Pavel Bem (Civic Democrats, ODS) succeeded in gaining the post of the European drug monitoring centre head, in view of his very controversial performance as Prague mayor in 2002-2010, Jiri Leschtina writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.


Pražský exprimátor a poslanec Pavel Bém (na snímku z 8. února 2010). ČTK Volfík René

True, Bem, a psychiatrist by training, has experience in tackling the drug problem. Before he became Prague mayor, he was pioneer of drug prevention in the Czech Republic. At the same, he is a deterring example of how a good expert can end up as a servant of the mafia sponging on public money, Leschtina writes.

Unlike his successors in the post of mayor, Bem does not face criminal prosecution, not even over the [suspicious] Opencard project of a smart card for Praguers. The state attorney has been unable to explain this fact convincingly, Leschtina writes.

Nevertheless, Bem´s phone conversations, wiretapped by the police and leaked to the media, clearly show that Bem, in his capacity as mayor, helped Roman Janousek, one of the Prague underworld bosses, siphon off money from the budget of Prague and Prague-owned companies, Leschtina writes.

Janousek used Bem to influence the city´s key property deals and personnel decisions. In view of this, should Bem become responsible for the European drug monitoring centre with the budget of 16 million euros? Leschtina asks.

Any public office in Europe at home should slam the door in front of Bem, he adds.

In Pravo, a left-leaning daily, Jan Keller says the Czech rightist opposition politicians will probably protest against the government´s plan to raise the minium wage and they will also oppose the idea of imposing a tax on luxury.

The right wing will criticise the 700-crown increase in the minimum monthly wage as money wasting, though the increased wage would be a mere 8,400 crowns (compared with the average pay of 25,000), Keller writes.

The critics, however, will assess the taxation of the richest people quite differently. Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Petr Fiala has already voiced concern about the government checking and spying on people to find out whether they live beyond their means, Keller writes.

If the pay is to be raised for those who often work in hard conditions, the right wing preaches the need for all to tighten our belts for the sake of our children´s future. If a tax is to be imposed on yachts, planes and mansions, the same moral preachers say that to envy other people´s success is a symptom of a mean nature, Keller says with irony.

Cigarette producers may laugh at the Czech tax on tobacco, which in fact plays into their hands, Eva Kralikova, from the Czech centre for tobacco addicts, writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).

The raising of the tobacco tax is the most effective means to curb tobacco consumption, but it should equally apply to all types of tobacco, Kralikova writes, recalling that the price of cigarettes influences the beginning smokers - children and adolescents - most of all.

By comparing the price of cigarettes and the average pay one can see that cigarettes are about 1.5 times better accessible than 20 years ago, Kralikova writes.

Czech politicians and media permanently speak about the planned "further raising of the tobacco tax," as if cigarettes were taxed enough and expensive enough already now. At the same time, however, cigarette prices have been considerably lowered by the producers, whose profits still remain adequate, Kralikova writes.

The Czech tobacco tax corresponds to the EU-required minimum, though nothing prevents politicians from raising it much more. Either they do not know that the increase would bring more money to the state budget and reduce the early death rate, or they act exclusively for the benefit of tobacco producers, Kralikova concludes.

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