Daily news summary

Number of foreigners working illegally in Czechia doubles, most are Ukrainians

An estimated 3,800 foreigners worked illegally in the Czech Republic last year, almost twice as many as in 2017.

According to a Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs report on combating illegal employment, four-fifths of them were Ukrainians. Many were Slovaks, Romanians or Bulgarians.

The overall numbers have risen because it is more costly for employers to lose out fulfilling orders than are the fines imposed for hiring illegal workers, the Ministry report says.

Its inspectors have focused mainly on construction worksites, warehouses and logistics centres, where hundreds of people are employed.

Air quality at Prague crossroads of Sokolská/Ječná among worst in Czechia

The Prague intersection of Sokolská and Ječná streets in the city centre has one of the highest pollution levels in the Czech Republic, according to the Centre for Environment and Health (CpŽPZ).

The Centre took readings of nitrogen dioxide values at 200 locations in a total of nine regional capitals. The intersection at Sokolská and Ječná streets had among the top 18 highest levels in the country, Centre co-founder and chairman Miroslav Šuta told journalists.

Nitrogen dioxide is generated in the combustion processes of coal, wood, natural gas, benzene and diesel.

Other sites in Prague with exceptional high levels include the openings to the Blanka tunnel complex in Dejvice, and the Vychovatelna chateau in Libeň, and at the Central Bohemian Regional Authority in Smíchov.

Politicians clash over ambassador’s attendance of Sudeten German meeting

Communist Party chairman Vojtěch Filip has criticised the participation of the Czech ambassador to Berlin in a meeting of the Sudeten German Homeland Association last month, accusing Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček of trying to demolish the Beneš decrees.

Mr. Filip said the Sudeten German group could not be a partner of the government and that he had never felt such disgust at a Czech foreign minister.

For his part, Mr. Petříček said nobody had questioned the Beneš decrees. He said Mr. Filip was acting like a parasite toward the past and what’s more was doing so a month late.

The Beneš decrees sanctioned the expulsion of Czechoslovakia’s German minority and the confiscation of their property after WWII.

Czechs with debts incurred as minors may get greater relief

A preferential debt relief regime that now only applies to the elderly and disabled will likely be extended to Czechs paying off debts incurred when they were minors.

MPs voted unanimously on Wednesday to amend the Insolvency Act to allow the new category of debtor to be included in the preferential regime.

The amendment’s authors said that leading figures in the Senate had signalled its smooth passage in the upper house. If signed into law by the President, it could take effect in September.

An earlier amendment to the Civil Code would transfer debts of children under 15 to their parents or guardians.

Over 6,000 children in the Czech Republic are currently threatened with distraint orders while tens of thousands of young adults have debts carried over from childhood.

Ice breakers on Prague’s Charles Bridge to be replaced in coming months

The replacement of ice breakers on Prague’s Charles Bridge will take until the end of November or the start of December, the city councillor in charge of transport, Adam Scheinherr, told reporters. The CZK 29.5 job got underway in the middle of June.

The existing ice breakers have been in place since 2006. The new ones will be made of oak, which should last longer, Mr. Scheinherr said. The 14th century Charles Bridge is the only one of Prague’s bridges to have such defences against the buildup of ice.

The replacement of the ice breakers is part of a broader technical renovation of Charles Bridge, which was interrupted in 2010. A number of arches are in need of repair, with the 14th one over Kampa island in a particularly poor state.

Czech divers break national record, spend 7 days, 15 mins underwater

Two divers on Wednesday broke the Czech national record for time spent underwater. After a week and 15 minutes below the surface, they emerged from a flooded quarry near Lišov in České Budějovice at 12:22.

David Vondrášek, a lecturer at the Prague Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, and his former student, Václav Gabriel, spent most of the week inside an underwater cabin at a depth of about ten metres.

Vondrášek was also the previous record holder, having spent 102 hours underwater in the same flooded quarry.

EC forecasts Czech GDP growth to slow to 2.6 pct this year

The Czech economy is expected to grow by 2.6 percent this year, following a 3 percent expansion in 2018, according to the latest forecast from Brussels.

For the coming year, the European Commission foresees growth of 2.5 percent, again mainly fuelled by solid growth in household consumption, with investment growth expected to ‘normalise’.

Private consumption is likely to remain the main growth driver and should continue to benefit from swift growth in wages and pension incomes, and robust consumer confidence, the EC said.

The trade balance is set to deteriorate over the forecast horizon and detract from GDP growth in 2019, before turning neutral in 2020, the forecast says.

Škoda Auto orders down 4.9 pct due to flagging Chinese sales

Škoda Auto delivered 620,900 cars to customers in the first half of the year, down 4.9 percent year on year.

The main factor was a drop of about a quarter in sales in China, the Volkswagen Group subsidiary said.

In the second half of 2019, the carmaker, which is the nation’s biggest exporter, expects to make up the difference thanks to demand for its new Scala and Kamiq models.

Sting cancels Czech leg of ‘My Songs’ tour due to illness

Grammy-winning British musician Sting has had to cancel his sold-out Friday concert at Slavkov, near Brno, due to illness.

The 70-year-old former frontman of The Police was also scheduled to perform this week in the European cities of Ghent, Munich and Stuttgart.

He is currently on a summer tour called Sting: My Songs, featuring the most popular songs he wrote for The Police and as a solo artist.

Slavia Prague defender Simon Deli to join Belgian club Brugge

Ivory Coast international Simon Deli is reportedly leaving Slavia Prague for FC Brugge next season.

According to press reports, the Belgian team will pay around 2.5 million euros for the 27-year-old defender.

Deli has twice won the championship title with Slavia Prague and the Czech Cup. He was also a regular player for his club in the Europa League quarter-finals this year.

Weather outlook

Rain is expected on Thursday in the north-western region of Karlovy Vary, as well as in the Moravian regions of Zlín and Olomouc. Average daytime highs should range between 19 to 24 degrees Celsius. Rain is expected nationwide on both Friday and Saturday.