Daily news summary
Stricter gun possession rules approved by government
Stricter rules for gun licenses have been approved by the government. Permits will in future be issued for five years instead of the current 10. Doctors will also be able check on a central register to determine whether patients who might have mental problems are also in possession of a gun. The changes should take effect in 2017 and should cover around 300,000 holders of gun licenses. The moves follow the gun rampage in Uherský Brod in February this year when eight people were shot dead by a solitary gunman with a history of mental problems.
Numbers of problem drug users soars, pervitin makes bigger inroads
The number of problem drug users in the Czech Republic has climbed to around 47,700, the country’s national drugs coordinator reported on Monday. The number of pervitin, or meth, users is reckoned now to total around 36,400. That is around twice the number a decade ago. Easy availability of the drug and its ingredients in the country and region were highlighted. The problem of under age drinkers and smokers was also highlighted.
New head of security service watchdog appointed
The Czech government on Monday approved the appointment of a new head of the body which polices the police, the General Inspectorate of Security Services (GIBS). The new chief is the former deputy head, Michal Murín. He replaces Ivan Bílek, who resigned in November following criticism over why the body did not investigate a high profile corruption affair centred on the Olomouc police. The investigation was instead lead by the special police department for uncovering organised crime. GIBS is responsible for supervising the police, customs inspectorate, and prison service.
October trade balance climbs to 13.3 billion crowns
The Czech trade balance for October ended with a surplus of 13.3 billion crowns, according to figures released Monday by the Czech Statistical Office. That is an advance of 1.2 billion crowns on the figure for the same month in 2014. The surplus, however, could take a major dent of 9.9 billion crowns if a new deal for the Czech army to rent Gripen jet fighter planes is taken into account. The trade balance so far this year shows a surplus of almost 138 billion crowns, that is almost 4 billion crowns more than in the first 10 months of 2014.
Industrial production speeds up in October
Industrial production in October climbed by 3.8 percent compared with the same month in 2014. When adjusted for the number of working days, the output increase stood at 6.4 percent. The value of new orders over the month climbed by 6.5 percent. The main factor fuelling the output increase was higher production of cars but production of electricity and chemicals fell back sharply.
Czech foreign minister says National Front poll is warning
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek has warned that the triumph of the National Front in the first round of French regional elections is a warning for Europe and the Czech Republic. The minister said that the victory showed that Europe could not put off taking basic steps which would counter the surge in support for the far right, which was the mounting concern about the immigration problem. Citizens would shift support to extremist parties if traditional democratic ones did not come up with solutions for their concerns about security, Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobradek told journalists on Monday. The National Front took the most votes in the first round of voting in regional elections with 30 percent of the total, beating the centre-right Republicans into second place and the governing Socialists into third.
Plzeň fails to tap a third of European funds for City of Culture: watchdog
The city of Plzeň’s European City of Culture events failed to pump around a third of the European funds that could have been used according to a critical report issued by the Czech Republic’s spending watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office. The office said that only 11 out of the originally planned 17 project areas were finally realised. Regional funds amounting to 19.5 billion crowns were earmarked but 6.0 billion crowns were not claimed, the office explained.
Ústí region loses out in contest for Galileo logistics centre
A logistics centre for the European satellite system, Galileo, has not been landed by the Ústí region, Czech president Miloš Zeman announced Monday that the choice for the new centre had ended up with Belgium. The two countries were in the final run off to get the centre. The logistics centre would not just have stored replacement parts for the network of European satellites but also involved some basic construction. At least 50 jobs would have been created. Prague is already the administrative centre for the Galileo project.
Energy Regulatory Office not to pay out support for renewable sources
The Czech Energy Regulatory Office (ERU) will not pay out support for renewable sources of energy next year unless it is approved by the European Commission, ERU chairwoman Alena Vitásková told Czech Television. According to Vitásková, only about 7 percent of domestic renewable sources have received approval from the EC. The Czech Republic pays out about Kc45bn annually in support of renewable sources. One of the reasons why most renewable energy producers have not received approval from the EC is that they allegedly receive excessive support from the state. Vitásková´s position was criticised by the Industry and Trade Ministry, the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association and the Alliance for Energy Self-sufficiency.
European orchids protection centre to open in Czech Republic
A European center for orchids protection will be established in the Czech Republic under the aegis of the Faculty of Sciences of Charles University, the ctk news agency reports. The centre, to be seated in Českée Budejovice, is to prevent a further decrease in the number of orchid species caused by negative global changes. There are presently some 50 orchid species in the Czech Republic, the most rare of which is the Pseudorchis albida, a small white orchid growing in the Šumava mountains.