Daily news summary
Defence Ministry to purchase new Ceasar howitzers for CZK 6 billion
The Czech Ministry of Defence is planning to buy 52 Ceasar self-propelled howitzers from French manufacturer Nexter Systems in a CZK 6 billion deal, Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar has announced. Nexter has already been approached and it is hoped that a contract will be signed by the end of 2020.
Once purchased, the army will move its current howitzers, DANA, into its reserves with no plans to sell these on.
The Czech Army is currently undergoing a long-term modernisation and the government is increasing annual spending to match the agreed NATO 2 percent threshold for defence expenditure. Mr Metnar said the Ceasar howitzers came out best in terms of army needs suitability and price.
Smartwings airline asking for CZK 2 billion rescue loan
The Czech low-cost airline Smartwings needs either a loan or a commercial guarantee of CZK 1.7-2 billion from the state within the next few weeks in order to survive, Smartwings Chairman of the Board Jiří Šimáně told the daily Mf Dnes in an interview published on Thursday. He also warned that if a second wave of the pandemic were to arrive Smartwings would need further support.
The company has already stated it does not want the state to purchase a stake in the company. The rescue loan money could be spent on aircraft payments, employee salaries and other necessities, Mr Šimáně told Mf Dnes.
As many other airlines, Smartwings has been feeling the weight of the coronavirus impact on international air travel and is in danger of bankruptcy. The idea of bailing out Smartwings was floated by the government last month, but was met with mixed opinions among the public.
Four localities selected as potential sites for nuclear waste storage facility
Experts from the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority have shortlisted four localities for a potential deep storage facility for nuclear waste, the Czech News Agency reported on Wednesday. The original list included nine locations around the country.
The four sites include the villages of Janoch in South Bohemia near the Temelín nuclear power plant, Horka in the Třebíč region, Hrádek in the Jihlava region and Březový potok in West Bohemia.
The waste storage facility should be built by 2065. The costs covering its construction and operation are estimated at around CZK 111 billion. The high level nuclear waste produce from the country’s nuclear power plants is currently being stocked on their premises.
Average wage up by five percent in Q1 at CZK 34,077
The average gross monthly salary in the Czech Republic increased by five percent in the first quarter of this year to CZK 34,077, according to data release by the Czech Statistics Office on Thursday.
In real terms, taking into account inflation, wages increased by 1.4 percent which is the lowest figure since the end of 2013.
The median wage, a midway between the highest and the lowest levels, was CZK 29,333, up by 5.8 percent compared to the same period last year.
Some 80 percent of employees earned wages between CZK 15,761 and 53,850 CZK. Two thirds of employees earned less than the average wage.
Number of newly registered Covid-19 cases continues to rise
The number of newly registered Covid-19 cases in the Czech Republic continues to rise. According to Czech Health Ministry statistics, there were 74 positive cases reported on Wednesday, which is the highest number over the past 11 days.
Overall, the number of cases in the country has reached 9,941. 324 people have died and 6,752 have recovered from the disease. At the moment, there are 124 hospitalised with Covid-19, 13 of them in serious condition.
Replica of Marian column to be erected on Old Town Square
A replica of the Marian column removed from Prague’s Old Town Square over a century ago is due to be erected on its former site on Thursday.
The original 17th century Marian column was torn down shortly after the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 by protestors, who considered it a symbol of Austrian rule.
Works on reinstalling the replica of the Baroque column started in February after years of heated debate over whether the column should be restored.
Friday is expected to be mostly overcast with rain in most parts of the country. Daytime temperatures will range between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.