Daily news summary


The lower house approves 2016 budget

The lower house of Czech parliament approved the draft of the 2016 state budget in its final reading on Wednesday. The proposal envisages expenditures of 1.251 trillion crowns and revenues of 1.181 trillion, creating a deficit of 70 billion crowns, i.e. 30 billion lower that this year’s. The lower house has also transferred more funds to be spent on social services, education and sport. The 2016 budget will have to be signed into law by the president.

Czech Republic to introduce security threat scale

The Czech authorities will introduce a four point security threat scale for emergencies, Interior Minister Milan Chovancec said after a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday. The council met to hear the results of a security audit undertaken by the Interior Ministry in the wake of the Paris attacks and discuss a proposed anti-terror package. The interior minister said that there was no immediate threat to the country and the present situation did not require amendments to the law.

President Zeman: Turkey should not be part of EU

Turkey should not be a part of the European Union, the Czech President Miloš Zeman said at the end of his three-day visit to north Bohemia on Wednesday, adding that despite its membership in NATO, Turkey sometimes behaves as Islamic State’s ally. The Czech head of state also criticised EU’S plan to pay three billion euros to Turkey in exchange for help holding back asylum seekers trying to make their way to Europe. He also repeatedly warned of the risks posed by the Muslim immigration to Europe.

Lower houses scraps age limit on civil servants

The lower house of Czech Parliament on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Czech civil law, which would enable ambassadors to remain in office even after crossing the present age limit of 70 years. Under the current law, which went into effect in July this year, public servants cannot remain in office after exceeding the set age limit. The new legislation probably won’t affect the two Czech ambassadors this concerns, Livia Klausová in Slovakia and Eva Filipi in Syria, because it won’t come into force soon enough. President Miloš Zeman, who is responsible for appointing and removing ambassadors, said an exception should be made for them to stay on in their posts.

Former deputy finance minister received Anti-corruption Fund award

Former deputy finance minister Lukáš Wagenknecht has received the annual Award for Bravery handed out by the Czech Anti-corruption Fund. Wagenknecht was dismissed from his post earlier this year after being involved in a high profile conflict with the ANO- appointed minister for regional affairs over a tender for a system to coordinate the use of European funds, which he said involved serious flaws. He also revealed the fact that the ANO Party deputy head Radmila Kleslová has had a lucrative deal with the state controlled company ČEZ. The other award winner was Jana Průšková who blew the whistle on an illegal fund in a company she had worked for.

State prosecutor seeks nine-year sentence for head of Czech energy regulator

The state prosecutor is seeking a nine-year sentence for the head of the Czech Energy Regulatory Office, Alena Vitasková, over clearance for solar power facilities which allegedly allowed her and several other people to earn extra millions of crowns, Czech television reported on Wednesday. According to the prosecutor, Radek Mezlík, Mrs Vitásková caused the state damages amounting to billions of crowns. The state has also petitioned for high sentences in the case of illegally granted licenses to solar power plants in the Chomutov region.

Industry and trade Minister to meet with union leaders over Paskov mine

The Minister for Industry and Trade, Jan Mládek, wants to meet with union leaders Josef Středula and Jan Sábel on Thursday to discuss the situation at the mining company OKD. The minister made the announcement on his Twitter account, adding that the situation in the company was getting serious. A meeting over the future of the OKD-owned Paskov mine, one of the Czech Republic’s last deep mines, which was to take place on Wednesday, has been postponed. Under the current deal with the government, the mine was to keep going until the end of 2017. However, OKD had the option to exit the deal if coal prices remained for nine months in a row below 110 dollars a tonne, which has opened up in September.

Inflation falls to 0.1 percent in November

Year-on-year inflation in November fell to 0.1 percent from October’s figure of 0.2 percent, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Czech Statistics Office. Last month’s year-on-year rise in consumer prices is the lowest since February, contrary to the expectations of analysists, who predicted a year-on-year inflation rise of 0.4 percent. Compared to October, prices dropped by 0.4 percent, which was the highest month-on-month decline since September 2013. The slowdown of inflation was caused mainly by the fall in prices of foodstuffs, spirits and fuel.

Zátopek’s sketched self-portrait to appear on Czech logo for 2016 Olympics

The sportswear of Czech athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will bear a simple sketch, a self-portrait drawn by the legendary long-distance runner Emil Zátopek, the Czech Olympic Committee revealed on Tuesday. Zátopek´s drawing will also be a part of the Czech logo. Artist Milan Jaroš who produced the logo said he had made only one alteration on Emil Zátopek’s sketch he changed the expression on the runner´s face. The original one did not smile, Jaroš said.

Justin Bieber to perform in Prague next year

Canadian popstar Justin Bieber is scheduled to perform at Prague’s O2 Arena within his Purpose World Tour on November 12, one of the organizers told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Tickets for his concert will go on sale on December 17. The former teen star has faced a number of controversies in the past, including driving under the influence and assaulting a photographer.

Stray dogs kill kangaroos and llama in Brno zoo

Stray dogs which found their way into the Brno zoo at night are reported to have killed three kangaroos and one llama. The damage has been estimated at 45,000 crowns. The dogs are reported to have dug a hole under the fencing and escaped the same way. A similar incident happened in the zoo earlier this year, when an ostrich and three exotic birds were killed. The police have appealed to the public to report on stray digs in the vicinity of the zoo.

Forecasters issue black ice alert

The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute has issued a black ice alert for most of the Czech Republic, starting on Wednesday night. Drivers and pedestrians have been warned to exercise extreme caution due to icy conditions caused by a sudden drop in temperatures. The alert will remain in place until 10 p.m. on Thursday.