Daily news summary

Finance minister proposing 500 billion crown deficit in 2020

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has said she will ask the government to debate a proposed amendment to the law on the state budget, which would increase this year's deficit to 500 billion crowns.

In a debate on commercial TV Prima on Sunday, the finance minister said she wants to submit the proposal to the lower house by the end of June.

The Chamber of Deputies has already agreed to increase the 2020 deficit to 300 billion crowns in view of additional expenditures relating to the coronavirus crisis.

Prior to the pandemic, the budget deficit was projected at 40 billion crowns. Minister Schillerová said she expects large budget deficits in the years to come as well.

Senate chair announces planned business mission to Taiwan will take place

Senate chair Miloš Vystrčil has said he will undertake a business mission to Taiwan, as planned by his predecessor, the late Jaroslav Kubera, despite fierce opposition from China.

Senator Vystrčil confirmed his intention to undertake the trip in a debate on Czech Television on Sunday.

The Senate chair said he would be accompanied by a delegation of business leaders and considered it appropriate for the group to travel on a government plane.

Senator Vystrčil said he would disclose the date of the planned business mission along with further details on June 9.

The late Jaroslav Kubera came under enormous pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Prague, as well as President Miloš Zeman over the planned visit, with the Chinese side warning it would harm bilateral relations and trade.

Finance minister against state-guaranteed loan for Smartwings

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has said she would not support a state-guaranteed loan for the Smartwings aviation group.

She voiced the stand in a debate on Prima TV in connection with a report on the news site Lidovky.cz according to which the company is preparing to ask the state for a loan of 900 million crowns.

In line with a rescue plan debated by the company’s executive board, the company’s shareholders should invest roughly one billion crowns towards its consolidation.

The Smartwings Group served 8.2 million passengers last year. It is now facing severe financial problems due to the decline in air travel due to the coronavirus crisis.

Several hundred people join anti-racism protest in Prague

Some three hundred people took part in an anti-racism protest, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US, on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday, adding their voice to protesters the world over.

They held up banners reading "no justice, no peace" and "black lives matter", kneeling on the pavement to read the names of the victims of police brutality.

The gathering, which included many people from Prague’s Anglo-American community, heard short speeches by a number of speakers before moving to the American Embassy in Prague where the peaceful protest ended. No incidents were reported.

Tatra expedition released after short detention in Iran

The members of an expedition called Tatra Around the World who were briefly detained by police in Iran for filming with a drone in an area where filming is prohibited were released on Saturday evening.

The head of the expedition, Marek Havlíček told the ctk news agency, the group had been unaware of the ban on filming in the area and attempts to clear up the matter were hampered by a language barrier since none of the officers questioning them spoke English, Russian or German.

The trip around the world in a specially adapted Tatra T 815 truck is expected to take three years, covering 270,000 kilometres across 70 countries and five continents. However the expedition’s progress has been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment expected to peak in June

Unemployment in the Czech Republic has only seen a slight increase so far, despite the considerable impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The unemployment rate in May rose by only two tenths to 3.6 percent, as compared to the previous month. At the end of May, 266,144 people were out of work, 12,104 more than in April. However, analysts warn that the main impact of the recession on the labour market is yet to come.

According to Labour Minister Jana Maláčová the unemployment figure should peak in June since redundancies are running in many companies, with a standard two-month notice period.

Domestic operators renewing rail and bus links abroad

With the reopening of borders, domestic rail and bus operators are renewing links to foreign destinations. RegioJet is providing the first trains to Slovakia on Sunday, Czech Railways and Leo Express will renew their links to Bratislava, Prešov and Košice on Monday.

Train connections to Austria and Germany, will follow at a later date. As of next Sunday Czech Railways will resume full operation of the Prague – Berlin – Hamburg / Kiel line and also the connections between Cheb and Nuremberg. The lines from Prague to Linz and also from Prague via Vienna to Graz are to be resumed in a week’s time.

There are still no trains running to Poland and Hungary, but RegioJet is planning to renew a bus connection to Budapest on June 12.

Weather forcast

Monday should be partly cloudy to overcast with heavy rain in places and day temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius. A storm warning has been issued predominantly for the eastern parts of the country.