Daily news summary
Regional council of Central Bohemia halts infringement procedure against PM
The regional council of Central Bohemia has halted an infringement procedure against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on the grounds of a complaint regarding a possible conflict of interest.
The news was confirmed by Babiš’ lawyer Václav Knotek, who said the regional council had found no evidence that Andrej Babis had any influence over the companies he had placed in trust funds to meet a strict new conflict of interest law.
A complaint against the prime minister was previously debated by the Černošice council which arrived at the opposite conclusion and meted out a 200,000 crown fine for the offense. Babiš appealed the decision.
The Czech branch of Transparency International filed a complaint with the Černošice council - a small municipality just outside Prague where Babiš lives - because Czech law states that conflict of interest complaints must be registered with the relevant local authority.
Teachers want meeting with prime minister to resolve salary strike alert
Teaching trade unions have asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš about their planned January salary increase and remain on strike alert, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday.
The unions originally wanted a 15 percent increase to their salaries as opposed to the government’s planned 10 percent pay rise, but have since agreed to the percentage proposed by the latter. The issue now revolves around how the extra pay should be handed out.
The unions have so far not commented on a new proposal by Education Minister Robert Plaga from the ANO party, which would see a flat pay increase of CZK 2,700 with a further CZK 900 available in bonuses.
The government previously promised to increase teachers’ salaries by 150 percent of their 2017 wages by the end of the current election term.
Ten people charged with corruption in government agency CzechTourism
The Czech police have begun the criminal prosecution of ten individuals connected to dubious public contracts issued by the government agency CzechTourism, which were worth an estimated CZK 27.3 million. A former manager of one of the agency’s departments has been charged with manipulating public tenders, while the other nine suspects with bribery. The information was provided by the spokesman of the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime.
The news site SeznamZprávy reported on Friday that the name of the manager is Aleš Pangrác and the charges relate to propagation contracts. He has since confirmed that charges have been brought against him, but refused to comment further.
A police raid was conducted at the Ministry for Regional Development to which CzechTourism is subordinated last November.
Poll: ANO strengthens lead, Pirates still ahead of Civic Democrats
The ANO party rose slightly in the polls in September and would receive 31 percent of the vote according to a September MEDIAN agency poll released on Monday. At 13.5 percent the Pirates retain their position as the second strongest party the Median survey shows, despite receiving 0.5 percent less than in August. They are closely trailed by the Civic Democrats at 12.5 percent, whose preferences have gone down by 1 percent compared to August.
The anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy party would receive 7.5 percent of the vote followed by the Social Democrats who are polling at 7 percent. The bottom three parties that are polling above the minimum level needed to enter the chamber of deputies are the Communist Party at 6.5 percent, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents who would both receive 5.5 percent according to the poll, meaning that all of the parties currently in the lower house would retain their representation.
Helsinki Committee: Children’s rights in Czechia have improved little since 2011
Children’s‘ rights and their treatment in Czechia have not improved much in the past eight years, according to a new report by the Czech Helsinki Committee, whose details were discussed at a press conference on Monday. The document will be examined later this week by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The analysis states that care for endangered Czech children is still splintered across multiple ministries, the amount of boys and girls in foster homes, while down since 2011, is still high and children’s opinions are not always taken into account at court.
According to the Miroslav Prokeš from the Alliance for Children’s’ Rights, Czech society still sees children more as objects rather than partners.
More than a quarter of Czechs worked on improving their computer skills in 2018
More than a quarter of Czechs developed their computer skills last year, with self-study being the most popular method, according to an analysis by the Czech Statistics Office released on Monday. The country ranks sixth in the EU28, eight points ahead of the average score, which lies at 20 percent. Finland dominates the ranking with 64 percent of its population between the ages of 16 to 74 improving their computer skills.
In the Czech Republic the percentage of those cultivating their information and communication technology skills depends on the age group. Among16 to 24-year-olds it is every second individual.
Czech households' debt rose by more than CZK 9 billion in August
Czech households' debt to banks and credit unions rose by CZK 9.24 billion to almost CZK 1.713 trillion in August when compared with July data, this according to statistics released by the Czech National Bank on Monday. In year-on-year terms the rise was higher than CZK 101.9 billion. The debt of non-financial corporations rose by CZK 16 billion compared to July and currently amounted to 1.145 trillion crowns. In year-on-year terms, this was a CZK 42 billion increase.
Household debt has been rising continuously since February 2016, with mortgages making up roughly three-quarters of the entire debt, according to the Czech National Bank.
Temperatures will rise on average to 22 degrees Celsius on Tuesday. Rains in the northern part of the country are likely to continue, while in the central part they are expected to stop. However, heavy clouds will form over the Vysočina and Central and Southern Bohemian regions.