Daily news summary

Czech Republic likely to have balanced budget in 2018

The country’s public finances are shaping up better than expected and the Czech Republic is heading for a balanced budget in 2018, Finance Minister Alena Schillerová told journalists on Friday.

Originally the budget was approved with a projected deficit of 50 billion crowns. The minister said this was largely due to a better collection of taxes, following a series of measures to fight tax evasion.

Minister Schillerová said she would have the exact figures on January 3rd.

The opposition has criticized the huge discrepancy between the government’s fiscal plans and the reality.

Czech officials ready to discuss Germany’s plans to recruit foreigners for Bundeswehr

The Czech Defence Ministry says it needs to gain more information on Germany’s plans to recruit nationals from other European countries as part of a drive to beef up the country’s armed forces.

It has not rejected the idea outright, although Czech politicians have reacted negatively to the suggestion saying that army service should be tied to nationality.

According to former army chief of staff General Petr Pavel such a plan could damage the Czech Army by reducing the number of its own recruits.

According to the German daily Hamburger Abendblatt Germany has sounded out its European partners regarding the plan with different results; only four countries, including the Czech Republic, were prepared to discuss the issue.

Man who held-up bank to be charged

The police will file charges against the twenty-eight year-old man who held nine hostages at gunpoint in a branch of the Unicredit bank in Příbram on Friday. He was disarmed by members of a rapid deployment force and arrested several hours later.

The man reportedly wanted to draw attention to his personal problems and had no intention of robbing the bank. If convicted he could face a sentence of between five and twelve years in prison.

Czech Bishops Conference protests against Grebeníček book

The Czech Bishops Conference has protested against a new book by Communist MP Miroslav Grebeníček in which he describes the Catholic Church as a greedy, power-hungry institution which seeks to gain independence not just from the state but its followers.

The general secretary of the Czech Bishops Conference, Stanislav Přibyl, said the book’s release was an outrage and further protested against the fact that Culture Minister Antonín Staněk of the Social Democratic Party had been present at the book launch.

The Social Democrats and the ANO party recently backed a Communist proposal for restitution money paid in compensation for church property confiscated by the Communist regime to be taxed.

Police charge five people with EU subsidy fraud

The police have charged five people with EU subsidy fraud in connection with an EU grant of fifty million euros for the construction of a five star hotel and wellness centre near Hluboká Castle in south Bohemia.

According to a police spokesperson an investigation into the case revealed serious financial irregularities. The money has already been paid out.

Statim: Baby boxes save lives

Baby-boxes in the Czech Republic have saved 180 infants since they were first installed in 2005, the ctk news agency reports citing Statim, the association that manages them.

This year alone twelve baby girls and six baby boys were left in boxes installed in different parts of the country. 76 such boxes are currently in operation.

Although critics oppose them on the argument that they make it too easy for parents to abandon children, their advocates emphasize the fact that they save babies from being abandoned where they have nil or very low chances of survival.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be overcast around the country with rain or snow in the higher altitudes and day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.