Daily news summary

Pirate MP calls for legalising prostitution, citing risks for sex workers

Pirate Party caucus head Jakub Michálek has proposed legalising prostitution. He said doing so would reduce health and safety risks for sex workers while fighting the grey economy.

Currently, the Czech Republic neither fully recognises nor explicitly bans prostitution. The Communists and Christian Democrats are likely to oppose the move, Mr Michálek said. But he is convinced it can move forward with the support of other parties.

An estimated 13,000 female prostitutes work in the Czech Republic, according to data released this month by the NGO Rozkoš bez rizika, which provides counselling for sex-workers. About half are single mothers, it said.

Farmers seek CZK 2.25 bn in compensation for drought

Farmers have applied for a total of 2.25 billion crowns in compensation for last year’s severe drought, the State Agricultural Intervention Fund (SZIF) said in a press release. The state has thus far earmarked 2 billion crowns for this purpose.

The government announced in February a new water management plan aimed at preventing drought from becoming a recurring long-term problem.

Minister of Environment Richard Brabec (ANO) noted that municipalities needed external drinking water supplies in February, an unheard of situation signalling the days of “water prosperity” are over.

Foreign film, TV crews spent CZK 5 bn in Czechia last year

Foreign film crews spent more than 1,000 days shooting at Czech locations and studios last year, spending 5 billion crowns, the Czech Film Commission says in its annual report. Series accounted for about two-thirds of overall foreign productions.

The Czech Republic in 2016 tweaked its incentives scheme to attract more foreign producers. It now offers a 20 percent rebate on qualifying Czech spend and up to a 10 percent rebate on qualifying international spend.

The Commission said that 2018 was one of the strongest years in terms of the number of foreign projects filmed here and amount spent. In total, 40 foreign TV series and films were shot.

Czech PM honours Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem memorial

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) visited the Yad Vashem Memorial to victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the second day of his ongoing visit to Israel.

He is also due to visit a lookout tower designed by Czech architect Martin Rajniš and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv, following a working lunch with entrepreneurs and scientists.

On Tuesday, Mr Babiš met his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. On his agenda were bilateral trade, cybersecurity and water resource management issues.

ČSÚ: Percentage of women university graduates steadily rising

The percentage of university graduates has been steadily rising in the Czech Republic, especially among women.

By the age of 35, approximately 40 percent of women and 27 percent of men have earned a university degree.

Only among senior citizens do more men than women have higher education, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) said.

Lawyer: No basis for stripping professor of title over plagiarism

Charles University academic Martin Kovář may not be removed from the post of professor despite being found guilty of plagiarism by an ethical commission at the university’s Faculty of Arts. The university’s vice rector and lawyer Aleš Gerloch says there is no basis in Czech law for stripping Mr. Kovář of the titles of professor or docent, a second qualification he holds.

Mr. Kovář, who is the head of the Institute of World History at Charles University, stood down as vice rector in December following accusations of plagiarism from three doctoral students.

Senate expected to reject Communist’s church restitution tax proposal

The upper house of Parliament is likely to reject a proposal to tax financial compensation awarded to churches in lieu of property that could not be returned in restitution.

The body’s constitutional and legal committee has recommended that Senators veto the proposal. The full Senate is due to discuss the draft, proposed by the Communists, next Wednesday.

The Communists have conditioned their tolerance of the minority government on its passing. Critics say the tax is unconstitutional.

Average mortgage rate in Czech Republic climbs to 3 percent

The average mortgage rate in the Czech Republic rose to 3.0 percent in January from 2.9 percent the previous month, according to market analysts Fincentrum. The average rate has been climbing since reaching a record low of 1.8 percent in December 2016. In January 2018 it stood at 2.3 percent.

The number of new housing loan contracts signed in January was the lowest in five years.

Average salary of automotive sector worker rises 8.7 percent

The average monthly salary in the Czech automotive industry rose by 8.7 percent last year to 40,865 crowns, or 31 percent above the national average.

The number of employees in the sector increased by 3.8 percent to 133,000, according to the Automobile Industry Association (AutoSAP).

Production of passenger cars in the Czech Republic increased by 1.7 percent last year to a record of 1.437 million cars. It has grown for five years in a row.

Weather outlook

Rain is in the forecast Thursday for throughout the country, apart from the regions of Pilsen, southern Bohemian, and Zlín. Average daily temperatures should range between 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.