Daily news summary


PM Sobotka says four programmes ready to start pumping EU funds

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met with four ministers Friday to review progress on pumping EU funds. Sobotka said four operational programmes, which could cover around half the total funds the Czech Republic could obtain over the ongoing seven year period, were ready and only needed final approval from Brussels. That could come some time in May, he added. The Czech Republic is way behind other EU countries in getting its programmes ready and approved with not one single programme up and running at the moment. The Czech Republic could be eligible to receive up to 652 billion crowns in EU funds between 2014 and 2020.

Retail sales soar ahead in February

Retail sales in the Czech Republic advanced at the brisk rate of 6.3 percent in February compared with the same month a year earlier, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Friday. That was the strongest sales showing since October 2008, just before the county sunk into a long recession, the office added. The biggest rise in sales was in goods ordered over the Internet or through mail order outlets which were up just over 25 percent. The biggest leap in demand was for information and communications equipment with purchases up 20 percent.

Metro improvements weighed up for baggage burdened passengers

Prague is considering making improvements to a newly completed metro station serving airport passengers which was revealed to be missing an escalator. City Hall’s head of transport policy said that a new escalator or equipment for carrying baggage. Transport officials and planners were left embarrassed this week which it was revealed that there was no escalator at the new Veleslavímn station meaning that passengers getting off to get the airport bus were faced with a series of stairs. Prague airport suggested it could deploy special porters to deal with the problem. Prague councilman Petr Dolínek said that the changes could be made without endangering previous EU funding.

60 percent of Czechs in favour of making Good Friday state holiday

Some 60 percent of Czechs would like to turn Good Friday into a state holiday, according to a poll conducted by the Median agency. Thirty-three percent of respondents are against the idea. According to sociologist Daniel Prokop, most people don’t regard the day as a religious symbol, but rather as an opportunity to have a day off. The idea is mostly supported by people who are employed; 70 percent of those would like to make Good Friday a state holiday. On the other hand, 50 percent of the self-employed are against the idea, claiming that they would fail to benefit.

Cocaine found in Lidl supermarket in Prague

A consignment of bananas containing around 100 kilograms of cocaine was found in Lidl supermarket in Prague’s Zbraslav district on Wednesday, the website TN.cz reported on Thursday. The information has been confirmed by the spokesperson for the National Anti-drug headquarters, Barbora Kudláčková. The fruit is believed to have been sent from Columbia in what was apparently a mistake by the traffickers. The police have introduced special measures concerning all cargos arriving from South America. The amount is estimated to have a street value of around 1.0 bllion crowns.

Tax police adopt poisonous snakes

Two very poisonous black cobra snakes have been adopted by a special anti-corruption police unit. The two reptiles are currently located at the Dvůr Králové zoo and will in no case be joining their new patrons. The so-called Kobra tax unit is giving 18,000 crowns a year for the upkeep of the long living snakes who are estimated each to swallow their way through around 40 rodents a month. While the donations could be tax deductible the tax enforcers say they not likely to be making any claims. The KOBRA unit was created in mid-2014 and already reckoned to have save the state around 1.7 billion crowns.

Police put castle boss in frame for lost art works

Police are searching for a former manager of the Valtice castle in South Moravia on suspicions that he damaged 58 painting left in the castle’s care. The paintings were the works of 39 artists from six countries with their combined value estimated at 4.6 million crowns. The works had been left following an annual art show held every year at the castle. The manager initially called police to the castle after he told them the works had disappeared. They thought an organized gang had taken them but suspicion later switched to the manger himself after frames were found broken and partly burnt and the works missing.

Prague metro line partially closed over Easter

Operation of the C, or red, metro line in Prague will be limited throughout the Easter holiday starting from Friday at 7.45 in the evening. The whole length of the line between Muzeum in the centre of the city and Roztyly in the southern suburbs will be closed until early on Tuesday. An emergency bus service will run along the route of the closed stations. The closure will allow repairs to take place.

Jagr equals record of fourth most productive NHL player

Living hockey legend Jaromír Jagr has become the fourth highest performing player in the NHL after equaling the points total of former Pittsburgh playing colleague Ron Francis. Jagr’s total, based on assists and goals scored, now stands at 1,798 points. The Czech picked up two points in Thursday’s 6:1 triumph for Florida against Carolina. Jagr’s Florida still maintain an outside hope of securing one of the last play-off places up for grabs.

David Lafata fined for penalty winning dive

In football, Sparta Prague striker and newly selected Czech footballer of the year David Lafata has been fined 50,000 crowns for his penalty winning dive in a league game. The penalty was converted in the last minute of the game against Teplice resulting in a valuable three points for the reigning league champions. Lafata admitted the dive a few days later and said he regretted it. The Czech football association said the fine was the highest in recent years but said that it had not looked at the possibility of banning the player for a few games.