Daily news summary
Finance minister envisages another huge budget deficit next year
The Czech minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, says she expects a state budget deficit of around CZK 300 billion next year, Czech Television reported. A budget deficit of that size is already planned for 2020. A budget deficit of CZK 40 billion had originally envisaged for this year but that figure was revised in view of the coronavirus crisis.
Ms. Schillerová said the government had rubberstamped an amendment under which the Ministry of Finance would present the draft budget for 2021 to the cabinet at the end of September and to MPs toward the end of October. This is a month later than usual.
PM: Borders with Austria and Slovakia could re-open in June
The Czech Republic could open its borders with Austria and Slovakia either on June 8, or June 15, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in an interview with the tabloid Blesk published on Wednesday. Asked about the re-opening of borders with Germany, Mr Babiš said he was more sceptical due to the epidemological situation in the country.
Austria and Germany have stated they want to reopen cross border travel with their neighbours.
Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer both said on Wednesday that they want to see the reopening of borders with neighbouring states, including the Czech Republic, on Wednesday.
The European Commission has recommended to states that they begin gradually re-opening their borders.
PM hopes diplomatic dialogue will normalise relations with Russia
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš hopes that a diplomatic dialogue with Russia will help normalise relations with the country, he said so in an interview with the tabloid Blesk published on Wednesday. Mr Babiš said that after consultations with him, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček had requested the opening of diplomatic dialogue with the Russian side to which the Russians agreed. The Czech prime minister went on to say that it is unacceptable for anyone to interfere in the Czech domestic political scene, but that the Russian side has rejected such an accusation.
There have been tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia in recent months, mainly stemming from Russia’s condemnation of the removal of a statue of Soviet marshal Ivan Konev in Prague 6. Reports appeared in the press that a Russian intelligence officer had been sent to Prague in April carrying ricin poison and three Prague politicians were sent into hiding upon recommendation by Czech security services. However, Russia denies this took place.
Police investigating alleged threats against Russian diplomat
Police in the Czech Republic are investigating alleged threats against a diplomat at Prague’s Russian Embassy, the minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, told Czech Television. Mr. Petříček said his officials had handed the matter over to the police after being contacted by the embassy.
The Russian Embassy said on Facebook on Monday that a member of its staff had received threats. It said this had come in response to false accusations of a planned Russian attack on Prague politicians.
Three officials in the city received police protection following reports that they could be in danger over moves that angered Moscow.
Surge in working from home brought down productivity by 30 percent, analysis claims
During the first month of coronavirus lockdown in the Czech Republic, when many Czechs were forced to work from home, productivity decreased by 10 percent and, after two months, fell further down by 30 percent. This according to an analysis conducted by consulting firm Moore Czech Republic among its clients.
Moore Czech Republic says this is mainly due to the transfer of whole teams into home office conditions, without the ability to analyse which sorts of work would be disadvantaged by the move.
The analysis also highlights that home office lowers a company’s cybersecurity capabilities and hinders the carrying out of tasks that require working with sensitive data. For example, workers in the public sector are often unable to take home their office laptop or computer due to security reasons, which affects their productivity.
Deputy ombudswoman: Children with special needs should also be able to return to school this year
Children with physical or mental impairments should have the same chance to attend classes in their respective schools as other students, according to Deputy Ombudswoman Monika Šimůnková.
Thus far the government plan for the reopening of schools counts on special needs schools to remain closed until the end of this academic year, but ordinary primary schools to begin reopening from May 25.
Ms Šimůnková has sent a letter to the Minister of Education Robert Plaga and Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, saying that this is in violation of education legislation and asking them to reconsider their timelines for re-opening.
Czech Film Fund to spend to support country’s coronavirus affected industry with CZK 92 million
The Czcech Film Fund has designated CZK 92 million to be handed out to representatives of the country’s film industry, who are struggling from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated government countermeasures, the Czech News Agency reported on Wednesday, citing the fund’s spokesman Jiří Vaněk.
Applications for financial support open on Wednesday.
Pensioner saved by ambulance staff after drinking mug of anti-coronavirus disinfectant
An ambulance was called last week in the Central Bohemian region after a female pensioner drank a mug of COVID-19 disinfectant to stop her from getting the virus. The patient then suffered heavy fits of vomiting and was transported to the local hospital, according to a Facebook post by the Ambulance Service of the Central Bohemian Region. She has since been released.
According to the service, the pensioner was afraid, because she belongs to the group at high-risk from the virus and was not able to filter out all of the information she found regarding prevention in the media.
Thursday will see heavy clouds above much of the country and rain in the central and eastern regions. Temperatures will hover between 12 to 14 degrees Celsius.