Daily news summary
Babiš: 5G network should be launched by 2024
Mobile operators will be given time until 2024 to launch their 5G networks after a frequency auction takes place, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Thursday at an international conference in Prague, which is dedicated to exploring the security, technical and economic aspects of switching to 5G.
Mr. Babiš said he expects the switch to the advanced wireless system to be even more revolutionary than the onset of mobile phones, stimulating economic growth, innovation and overall prosperity. However, he also stressed the extraordinary importance of ensuring the new network system’s security.
In a video message sent to the conference, European Commissioner for Security Julian King urged the importance of EU member states approaching 5G network security in a co-operative way, establishing a set of security standards.
Justice Minister proposes slimming down courts and prosecution offices
New Justice Minister Marie Benešová is considering slimming down the current justice system, according to an interview published on Thursday in the daily Lidové Noviny. She says she is considering replacing the current four-tier system of courts and state prosecution offices, with a three-tier system that would exclude the general prosecution offices in Prague and Olomouc.
Before any such decision is made, Mrs. Benešová said she will call for an expert analysis of the plan and will respect the majority opinion on the issue.
It is not the first time such a move has been proposed. In 2008, the Civic Democrat Minister of Justice Jiri Pospíšil came out with a similar proposal, but had to drop it due to a lack of funds.
President signs law taxing church restitutions
President Miloš Zeman has signed legislation enabling the state to tax church restitutions, according to an official press release from Prague Castle. Communist deputies say the highly controversial law, which had to go through a second vote in the Chamber of Deputies in late April after it was vetoed in the upper-house, could retain CZK 380 million from the annual CZK 2 billion pay-outs the state has pledged to undertake until 2030.
Opposition parties including the Mayors and Independents and the Christian Democrats are planning to issue a complaint to the Constitutional Court, which they hope will invalidate the legislation.
Czech National Bank raises interest rates
The Bank Board of the Czech National Bank raised its basic interest rate to 2 percent, an increase of 0.25 percent, the Czech News Agency reports. It is the first rise since November 2018 and interest rates are now at their highest in the past 10 years.
Analysts told the Czech News Agency the increase is mainly due to developments in the country’s economy, with inflation rates rising above predictions in the first quarter of 2019 and the exchange rate for the Czech crown weaker than the bank predicted in February.
The bank has also decided to go ahead with 0.25 percent raises in the Lombard rate, which deals with short-term liquidity loans to commercial banks and the discount rate.
Victims’ names to be read out in Czech cities on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Jewish and Roma holocaust victims will be commemorated through a series of public readings in over 20 Czech cities, which are set to start at 2pm on Thursday. Participation is open to all. Those who do choose to take part will receive a list of names with some personal data on each individual and can then read out the names publicly.
The event is part of the 14th annual Yom HaShoah, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day in English. It is organised by the Terezín Initiative Institute and both Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, as well as the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Meron have pledged to take part.
Ultra-right and anti-fascist demonstrators clash in Brno
Six people were detained and two police officers injured in clashes between ultra-right supporters and their opponents in Brno on Wednesday evening.
Around one hundred people joined the ultra-right march through the city centre while hundreds of opponents en route attempted to disrupt the rally. Hundreds of officers were out in force to keep them apart.
When they met head on the police ordered the far-right gathering to disperse. Their opponents then marched to the city centre to celebrate their victory.
Czechs used up more water than last year
Year-on-year water consumption among Czechs has risen to 133.5 litres a day per person, the Czech Statistics Agency reports. Household consumption has gone up to 89.2 litres per person. The highest water consumption is registered among households in Prague, where it lies at 107 litres per person.
Data shows that water use has been increasing among Czech households for years. Meanwhile, farmers are expecting low yields as extreme drought is reported to have spread across 30 percent of the country.
However, statistics show that the current levels of water consumption are still well below the common rates registered in the 1980s, when 170 litres were used up on a daily basis per person.
More SAS flights to and from Prague cancelled
The Scandinavian airline SAS has announced it is cancelling another 280 flights on Thursday due to a drawn out pilot strike which has already affected 300,000 passengers.
The cancellations include scheduled flights from Prague to Stockholm. A decision on an afternoon flight from Copenhagen to Prague has not yet been announced. Passengers have been advised to keep themselves informed about developments on flysas.com.
Temperatures are set to go down to an average of 13 degrees Celsius on Friday, with rain and frequent showers expected across most of the country during the night and continuing during the day in the west, south and east of the country.