Daily news summary

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NKÚ: Czechia lacks sufficient “green” financial, tax incentives

The Czech Republic lacks effective tax incentives and other measures that would encourage households and businesses to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) says in a new report.

The Czech state has failed to motivate citizens to use greener vehicles, reduce energy consumption and switch to greener energy sources, the report says. The NKÚ notes that financial and tax measures fall under the remit of the ministries of Finance, Transport and Environment.

Unlike in most European Union member states, the report says, financial measures aimed at combatting global warming are not actively enforced in the Czech Republic. Here, the three ministries are merely tracking developments, according to the NKÚ.

Transparency Int’l: trust funds no solution to PM Babiš’s conflict of interest

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš did not resolve his conflict of interest by putting the Agrofert conglomerate he founded into trust funds, watchdog Transparency International told journalists on Monday.

An EU audit into the issue, leaked last week, concluded there was a potential conflict of interest between Babiš’s position as prime minister and his continuing links to his former businesses.

Transparency International said Babiš knows full well what Agrofert companies are doing and can take decisions as head of state benefitting them, noting his wife sits on a trust fund board, and his own media report on the activities of his businesses.

20,000 flock to see Venus of Věstonice dating back to Old Stone Age

Some 20,000 people have seen the Venus of Věstonice since the statuette of a shapely Old Stone Age woman went back on display after a 5-year hiatus, just under two weeks ago.

The Venus is among the world’s oldest ceramic pieces of art, dating back nearly 30,000 years. The ceramic figure was discovered in South Moravia in 1925 amongst remnants of a fire pit once used by mammoth hunters.

The 11-centimetre high figure – valued at USD 40 million dollars – is usually locked in a museum safe, and a replica stands in its stead. Long queues to see the real thing have formed at the Regional Museum of Olomouc, especially over the past two weekends.

V4: Prague to sign “Free Cities Pact” with Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw

Prague City Hall councillors have agreed is conclude a Free Cities Pact with the other Visegrad Four group capitals aimed at strengthening cooperation.

The mayors of Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and Warsaw agreed to create the pact on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Free Cities Pact calls on signatories to work together to tackle problems such as climate change, housing and social policy, and to promote democratic ideals, human rights, and the rule of law.

Representatives of the V4 capitals are due to sign the pact on December 16 in Hungary. Prague also wants to sign a sister city pact with Vienna, concerning mainly transport, housing and ecological issues.

Czech diplomats to host annual ‘Mitterrand’ breakfasts with human rights activists

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and Czech ambassadors abroad this week are hosting breakfast meetings with human rights and democracy campaigners to honour a famous French gesture of support for Czechoslovak dissidents under communism.

The meetings commemorate a famous breakfast at Prague’s Embassy in Paris on December 9, 1988, when then French president François Mitterrand held talks with Czechoslovak dissidents in a significant gesture of support.

Mitterrand had invited dissidents and Charter 77 signatories, including Václav Havel, to the French embassy for the meeting during a visit to Czechoslovakia earlier that year.

The French president’s visit helped spur the Czechoslovak regime to grant official permission for an opposition rally to be held on Human Rights Day on December 10, 1988 in Prague's Žižkov district.

Oldest Czech dies at 108

The Czech Republic’s oldest citizen, Magdalena Kytnerová, has died at the age of 108 in the Moravian town of Kroměříž.

She was born on March 17th of 1911 and her life spanned the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the birth of an independent Czechoslovakia, two world wars and the country’s return to democracy after forty years of communist rule.

There are currently over 430 centenarians living in the Czech Republic, the majority of them women, and their number keeps increasing.

HKČR: Record percentage of Czech companies paying “13th salary” bonus

Despite an anticipated slowdown in Czech economic growth, a record 59 percent of companies plan to pay employees a so-called 13th salary bonus this year, according to a survey by the Czech Chamber of Commerce (HKČR).

About three-quarters of big companies – those with more than 250 employees – plan to pay a 13th salary at the turn of the year, the survey shows. Almost every second (47 percent) small company – with up to 10 employees – will pay out such a bonus this year.

By comparison, in 2017 fewer than on in three big companies and one in five small ones paid out a 13th salary or “Christmas bonus”. The HKČR estimates this year’s bonuses on average will exceed 34,000 crowns, with the majority ranging from 18,000 to 38,000 crowns.

Czechs to sign CZK 14.6 bn deal to buy Bell military helicopters on Thursday

Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar (for ANO) is due to finalise the Czech Army purchase of twelve US helicopters on Thursday following talks with his American counterpart, Mark Esper.

The ministry has agreed to buy eight utility UH-1Y Venom helicopters and four AH-1Z attack Viper helicopters from Bell for 14.6 billion crowns. They are due for delivery in 2023.

Bell was chosen over a cheaper option due to its offer of greater cooperation with Czech firms, especially state-owned LOM Praha, which maintains Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters.

Metnar said last month the contract includes equipment, ammunition, spare parts and training of the personnel and best meets Czech needs.

Unemployment remains at 2.6 percent in November

Unemployment in the Czech Republic remained at 2.6 percent in November, the same as the previous month, the Czech Labour Office announced on Monday.

The number of jobless increased by 771 to 197,289, which is the lowest figure for the month since 1996, while the number of vacancies increased to 339,000. Last November, unemployment stood at 2.8 percent.

The lowest rate of unemployment, 1.8 percent, is in the Pardubice region, which is followed by Prague with 1.9 percent.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be partly cloudy nationwide during the day, with the skies clearing in the evening. Average daytime highs are expected range between 6 to 10 degrees Celsius.