Daily news summary
Bird flu spreads to Czech commercial farm
Czech veterinarians have confirmed the first outbreak of bird flu at a large commercial poultry farm. The farm in question is near Blatná in South Bohemia with the estimated 6500 ducks there set to be killed on Thursday. The breeder found 160 dead ducks on Tuesday and Wednesday with tests later proving the presence of the H5 virus. An investigation into how the flock, which should have been kept away from wild birds, was infected is now being carried out. It is the 11th case of bird flu in the Czech Republic in the last couple of weeks.
Kobra prevented tax evasion worth 3.4 billion crowns in 2016
The country’s special anti-corruption police unit, known as Kobra, has prevented tax evasion amounting to 7.6 billion crowns in total since its establishment in June 2014, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš announced on Thursday at a press conference of the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic. In 2016 alone, Kobra prevented tax evasion worth 3.4 billion crowns. The team, operating under the anti-corruption police, is comprised of experts from the police and the finance and customs authorities.
Unipetrol sees surge in 2016 profit
The Czech Republic’s biggest refining company, Unipetrol, announced a sharp hike in its net profit to nearly 8.0 billion crowns in 2016 in spite of a slide in sales. One reason for the boost was insurance payments following an explosion at its Litvinov plant. Overall turnover slipped to almost 88 billion in spite of an improved performance from its Benzina petrol stations which now claim around 18 percent of the Czech market. Uniptrrol is controlled by the Polish group PKN Orlen.
Finance Minister Babiš to solve ownership of Agrofert in February
The Minister of Finance and ANO chief Andrej Babiš said on Thursday he would resolve his ownership of the Agrofert agro-chemical company in February. He made the statement in reaction to the new bill on conflict of interest, which places ownership restrictions on government members. The legislation, which came into force on Wednesday, prevents people with large stakes in companies from becoming ministers, while firms more than 10-percent owned by cabinet members are not allowed to compete for public tenders. Mr. Babiš, who owns one of the country’s biggest companies as well as several media outlets, repeated that he regarded the bill as unconstitutional.
TOP 09 would not make it into Parliament, poll suggests
The ANO party of businessman Andrej Babiš would win elections to the lower house of parliament with 29.9 percent of the vote, if elections were held now, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency. The Social Democrats would come second with 14.6 percent, followed by the Communist Party with 12.6 percent. The survey also suggests that the TOP 09 party, which gained slightly over five percent of votes in previous surveys, would not make it into Parliament. Other parties that would cross the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house are the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats.
Polish coal mine expansion threatens Czech water sources
Plans to expand the massive brown coal mine at Poland’s Turów is threatening water sources on the Czech side of the border, representatives of waterworks from the affected region said at a press conference on Thursday. According to the water company experts, wells and streams around the towns of Frýdlant, Hrádek nad Nisou and Chrastava in the north Bohemian region have already been drying up and the mine’s extension will make the situation even worse. An expert study suggests around one billion crowns will be needed in the coming years to provide 30,000 people from the area with drinking water.
Friday is expected to be mostly sunny with daytime temperatures ranging between minus two and two degrees Celsius.