Czech hotels will next year adopt the European star rating system as set by the Hotelstars Union, the Czech hotels and restaurants association said on Wednesday. The Czech Republic joined the Hotelstars Union, an international association of hotels and restaurants active in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and eight other countries, in 2010. Since then, over 400 Czech establishments have met its quality standards and are allowed to display the stars. However, the system in each country was different. As of 2013, hotels that meet the union’s qualifying standards will be given a unified rating while those already holding one will have to reapply.
The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem on Wednesday dismissed a complaint by environmentalists against the completion of the controversial D8 motorway, effectively allowing the country’s road authority to go ahead and complete the last 4.7 kilometer-long stretch. The D8 motorway, connecting Prague with the German border, crosses a nature reserve. Environmentalists claim the respective environmental impact assessment study is incomplete as it fails to analyze alternate routes. However, the authorities consider the study to be sufficient.
Prague’s transport authority on Wednesday filed a series of lawsuits against its former managers over several allegedly overprice contracts, the director of the company, Vladimír Lich said. Based on the results of a recent audit, the transport authority also filed lawsuits against managers of companies hired to provide paper and SMS tickets and legal, marketing and other services. Without disclosing any names, Mr Lich said the lawsuits were filed against eight people.
Some 34 percent of Czechs never attended a concert of classical music although up to 70 percent of them consider such events to be part of their general cultural background, according to a new poll by the STEM/MARK agency for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra released on Wednesday. Most people said they did not have time to attend such concerts. The survey also suggests that only around 17 percent of Czechs play a musical instrument.
The Czech national football team plays Ukraine in Lviv on Wednesday in a friendly match ahead of World Cup qualifying. Czech manager Michal Bílek has chosen midfielders Vladimír Darida and Daniel Kolář, both of Viktoria Plzeň, to replace the injured playmakers Tomáš Rosický and Jaroslav Plašil. Striker David Lafata, of Jablonec will be the Czech team’s sole forward. Coach Bílek said the game was an ideal testing ground ahead of the World Cup qualification in which the Czechs will play Denmark in September.
In its 2012 report on the Czech Republic Social Watch, an international network of citizens’ organizations, has criticized the government’s austerity measures and what it calls unremitting corruption. The report says the centre-right government is sticking to the implementation of a neo-liberal policy which undermines social well-being and undercuts economic growth. It says the country faces threats such as the impoverishment of middle-class and low-income groups, increasing unemployment and gender inequality. The report claims that less attention is being paid to pressing environmental problems and improving conditions for immigrants.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Tuesday defended the government’s proposed tax hikes in the Senate. Addressing a meeting of Civic Democrat senators, some of whom strongly oppose the government’s consolidation strategy, the prime minister said the proposed hike in the lower and basic VAT rates to 15 and 21 percent as of 2013 was vital for the government to be able to bring the deficit in public finances under 3 percent of GDP. Mr. Nečas also rejected criticism from President Klaus who said the tax hike was an ill-conceived measure that would undermine the economy. The prime minister countered that it was easy for Mr. Klaus to say when he did not bear responsibility for the state budget. Several Civic Democrat senators said later the prime minister’s arguments had failed to convince them to support the government’s austerity package.
The Czech economy remains in recession, after contracting for three consecutive quarters. The GDP fell by 0.2 percent in the second quarter, according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Tuesday. Economic performance is 1.2 percent lower in annual terms. According to analysts the recession has deepened year on year mainly due to a slowdown in industrial production, which was the main driver of growth previously. The government’s austerity measures have reduced domestic demand and the euro debt crisis has weakened exports.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek on Tuesday defended the government’s fiscal strategy saying that to artificially boost the GDP would in the long run be three times more expensive and a great deal more harmful than the effects of the government’s consolidation plan. The finance minister said it would be misleading to judge the state of the economy on the grounds of one macro-economic indicator –GDP growth. Despite defending its austerity package the government has responded to the worsening state of the economy with a promise to reduce the deficit in public finances at a slower pace than gradually planned.
The National Security Council has approved a long-term financial aid plan for Afghanistan. At its meeting in Prague on Tuesday the council approved a total of 140 million crowns to be spent on development projects and training of security forces between 2014 and 2017. The plan ensues from an agreement reached at the NATO summit in Chicago in May of this year where the US emphasized the need to compensate the gradual withdrawal of forces by additional funds vitally needed to maintain law and order and assist development. The security council meeting was attended by President Václav Klaus in the role of supreme commander of the Czech Armed Forces.