The government has said it will revise the 2012 state budget in January when it has a more accurate growth forecast for that year. Gloomy growth predictions across Europe have led the Czech Finance Ministry to revise downward its growth forecast for 2012, predicting a growth of 1 percent at best, down from a July estimate of 2.5. The ministry is reportedly working on several crisis scenarios including one for recession. According to preliminary estimates the government may be short of 18 to 20 billion crowns if it wants to maintain its set target deficit in public finances.
The Finance Ministry has said the Czech state budget deficit fell to 91.5 billion crowns at the end of October from 105.1 billion in September. In October 2010 the state budget deficit stood at 96.7 billion crowns. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Tuesday the 135-billion-crown state budget deficit proposed for 2011 would not be exceeded. The ministry says an expected 20-billion-crown drop in tax revenue will be compensated for by savings in government spending.
The Prague stock exchange fell on Tuesday in response to Greece’s plan to hold a referendum on the Euro zone bailout package. Its main PX index dropped 3.55 percent to close at 897.3 points, the lowest in four weeks. The Czech crown further weakened against both the euro and the US dollar over continuing uncertainty on the markets, closing at 25.08 crowns to the euro and 18.34 crowns to the US dollar.
The US lawyer Ed Fagan has demanded that documents concerning unpaid bonds issued by the town of Karlovy Vary back in 1924 be made public. Mr Fagan said on Tuesday he wanted the Czech Finance Ministry to confirm the securities were still valid and prove the state had settled up with the bond holders. The Finance Ministry earlier rejected a 500-million-dollar claim for the unpaid bonds dating back to 1924 which were sold in the United States. Individual claimants, represented by Mr Fagan, have not been identified. The Czech Finance Ministry which had been studying the case said the claims had been statute barred for years. According to available information the Czechoslovak authorities negotiated with the bond holders in 1984 and the two sides signed a memorandum the contents of which have not been disclosed. Mr Fagan indicated on Tuesday he had similar securities issued by the capital Prague.
The state attorney for Prague 1 has accused Martin Knetig, one-time advisor to former Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, of corruption. Mr Knetig allegedly demanded a bribe from a bank officer in connection with depositing the State Environmental Fund’s money into a number of unspecified banks in 2010. If found guilty, Mr Knetig faces up to three years in prison. Former Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, now deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, distanced himself from his former advisor over the affair, saying Mr Knetig had not acted on his instructions. Mr Drobil has rejected allegations he was implicated in the matter.
North Moravia reports major smog problems with dust concentrations reaching three times the permitted norm. Authorities in the Ostrava and Karviná districts declared a smog alert on Tuesday morning ordering major polluters to restrict production, among them the steel producer ArcelorMittal Ostrava and the Czech energy company ČEZ. The Czech Environment Inspection Office in Ostrava says air pollution coming from neighbouring Poland, which has no smog regulation system in place, is behind the current situation in the border region.
The Škoda Auto Company has revealed the price of its latest model – the Škoda Citigo – intended for city traffic. The basic three-door Citigo Active will be sold for 179,000 crowns (some 10,000 USD), the upgraded versions Ambiente and Elegance will be available for 194,000 crowns and 209,000 crowns, respectively. Sales will be launched in the Czech Republic in late November. Other European countries will see its arrival in the summer of next year. The Citigo, the smallest Škoda model so far, is produced in neighbouring Slovakia, only the second Škoda model to be manufactured abroad, following the Rapid in India. A five-door version will be available in 2012.
As of Tuesday, November 1st, large state-run hospitals in the Czech Republic are obliged to inform patients as to how long they will be waiting for surgeries and medical examinations. Patients can find the information on the hospitals’ websites. Smaller facilities will also be required to publicize their waiting lists in the near future. According to the chairwoman of the Association of Hospitals Jaroslava Kunová, the differences in the waiting period for hip replacement surgery in individual hospitals currently range from two months to two and a half years. The Health Ministry says it is now working on a regulation stipulating maximum waiting periods for different surgeries.
Police say they have detained an 18-year-old woman suspected of making hoax bomb threats on Monday and Tuesday in a number of large shopping centres around Prague. The shops were evacuated but no explosives were found. According to the novinky.cz news site the woman had made at least eight phone calls demanding money otherwise she would detonate the explosives. In an unrelated case, a twenty-one-year old woman turned herself in to the police in Prague on Monday evening and admitted to having threatened to detonate a bomb in a casino in the centre of Prague shortly before that.
Czech Television has announced it has joined the EUscreen internet project which aims to create an interconnected network of digitized archives of European TV stations. The project was launched in October last year on World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. EUscreen tries provide access to European television archives from the 1950s to the present day across national borders and language barriers. The project, co-financed by the European Commission, brings together 28 partners from 19 countries. The digitized contents will be accessible via the Europeana web portal which currently provides access to over 20 million items in libraries, museums and audiovisual archives.