Daily news summary

Czech PM Babiš meets with President Trump in White House

Czech PM Andrej Babiš held talks with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday. At a press conference after the meeting, Mr Babiš said he felt that he had a personal rapport with Mr Trump, and that he had invited him and his daughter Ivanka to visit the Czech Republic.

He also said that he had appealed to Mr Trump not to introduce new tariffs on trade between the EU and the US, which could harm the Czech Republic. The two also talked about cooperation on matters of defence and security.

The White House meeting was the highlight of the Czech PM’s three-day visit to the United States, which also included a meeting with CIA officials at Langley.

NBA’s Tomáš Satoranský ‘refused’ to meet Czech PM Andrej Babiš after match, citing ‘StB past’

Washington Wizards point guard Tomáš Satoranský says he “refused” to meet Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) following the NBA team’s victory at home on Wednesday over the Dallas Mavericks.

In a social media posting, he cited the politician’s alleged past as a collaborator with the communist-era secret police, the StB.

The Czech prime minister said he attended the NBA basketball game with his wife to take in the “atmosphere” and did not even try to meet Mr Satoranský, one of the few Czech playing in the American league.

Mr Babiš, who is on an official visit to Washington, D.C., met U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday.

He told reporters he was not surprised internet “trolls” had spread talk about him ahead of the basketball game and been in touch with Mr Satoranský.

Czech state wins battle with Archdiocese over UNESCO-listed Kroměříž flower garden

The Czech state will remain owner of a Baroque flower garden in Kroměříž, according to a ruling by the Moravia town’s district court, which rejected a claim by the Archdiocese of Olomouc.

The Flower Garden of Kroměříž is exceptional in a broader European context as it represents a transition between late renaissance Italian gardens and classical Baroque gardens of the French style.

The Archdiocese argued that the garden, a UNESCO World Heritage site, forms a coherent whole with the adjacent chateau, both of which the Catholic Church recovered in 2015 in restitution. The properties had been confiscated by the communist regime.

Convicted killer Jiří Kajínek testifies in Brno planned murder case

Jiří Kajínek, convicted of series of contract murders but released on a presidential pardon in 2017, gave witness testimony on Friday in a Brno court about a planned murder.

Prosecutors say a woman promised her lover 50 million crowns if he killed her husband. Mr Kajínek, who acknowledged that he knew the woman’s lover, said he had no knowledge about a contract killing.

The woman’s lover, Jiří Kopriva, allegedly pusher her husband over the edge of a rock quarry outside of Brno, but he managed to grab on to something and so did not fall to his death.

Mr Kajinek became something of a celebrity after escaping from the country’s maximum security prison several years ago. He spent a total of 23 years in prison. He and Mr Kopriva became acquainted soon after his release.

Average Prague salary jumps 6.5 pct to nearly 42,000 crowns

The average gross monthly salary in Prague stood at 41,851 crowns in the fourth quarter of 2018, up 6.5 percent year on year, data from the Czech Statistical Office (ČSU) published on Friday show.

Prague salaries are the highest in the country on average. The lowest are in the Karlovy Vary region, at 29,703 crowns.

Nationwide, the average gross monthly salary stood at 33,840 crowns in the fourth quarter, up 6.9 percent in annual terms.

According to the ČSU, 846,700 people were employed in the Czech capital in the fourth quarter, up 3.2 percent year on year.

Labour Office: Czech unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 pct in February

The unemployment rate fell to 3.2 percent in February, after two straight months of incremental growth, according to Czech Labour Office. A year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 3.7 percent.

Some 241,417 people were out of work in February, the lowest number for the month since 1997. The number of advertised vacancies increased to 333,111.

Citing seasonal factors, the head of the Labour Office said unemployment should continue to drop slightly in the coming months, with positions opening especially in the construction, gastronomy, agriculture, forestry and tourism sectors.

The lowest unemployment rate remains in Prague, where 1.9 percent of people were out of work. The highest is in the Moravian-Silesian region, at 4.8 percent.

People in Need app to help debtors flag illegal seizure orders

The humanitarian group People in Need has launched an internet application called Doložkomat (“clauseomat”) which allows borrowers to assess seizure orders against them.

The application determines whether a clause is valid or illegal due to a non-transparent arbitration clause. If a seizure order is deemed illegal, it generates a petition for halting it.

Daniel Hůle of People in Need said the app could help stop as many as 100,000 illegal seizures. He said about 90 percent of the market for loans with illegal arbitration clauses is represented by four companies: Essox, Home Credit, Cetelem and Komerční banka.

Press: Czech investor Radovan Vítek’s CPI pays £55mn for flats on London’s “Billionaires’ Row”

Czech tycoon Radovan Vítek has bought a portfolio of flats on London’s “Billionaires’ Row” for £55 million through developer CPI Property Group, British daily the Evening Standard reports.

CPI has teamed up with London-based private investor Dean Main to buy 11 apartments on The Bishops Avenue, the paper said, citing unnamed industry sources.

Mr Vitek is worth $3.5 billion according to business magazine Forbes.

Press: ČNB’s Tomáš Holub denies actions at turn of 2018/19 to stabilise crown

The Czech National Bank (ČNB) has denied speculation it might have acted through foreign counterparts to limit crown weakening at the end of 2018, Reuters reports.

In response to a question on market rumours, board member Tomáš Holub told reporters on the margin of a conference in Prague he could unambiguously reject that happened.

Any swings in the ČNB’s balance sheet would have been caused by autonomous action by foreign clients of the central bank, he said.

Weather outlook

Rain is in the forecast for Saturday nationwide, apart from in the Zlín region. Daytime highs should range between 7 to 13 degrees Celsius. Scattered showers are also likely on Sunday.