The power giant ČEZ has decided to postpone a decision on the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant by at least a year, the head of the company’s planning department Pavel Cyrani told the economic weekly magazine Euro. Mr. Cyrani said the decision would only be made after the approval of a long term state energy strategy and the possible approval of a fixed price on energy from the two new reactors. The government was to have selected the winner of a multi-billion crown tender on the completion of Temelín in the autumn of this year, but there has been increasing controversy over whether the country needs two more nuclear reactors in the first place.
The construction company responsible for the reconstruction of the country’s D1 highway announced on Monday that it would resume work suspended over a fortnight ago over costs. The announcement came shortly after Transport Minister Zdeněk Žák threatened to terminate the contract if work on the respective stretch of the road did not resume immediately. The company halted work on the argument that the road was in much worse condition than expected and asked the investor for more money. The country’s Road and Motorway directorate, which allegedly failed to commission an adequate expert assessment of the state of the highway, has said it is ready to negotiate the question of cost but has warned it would demand penalties for work not concluded on schedule.
The former centre-right government of ex-PMPetr Nečas handed out a record 250 million crowns in bonuses to ministerial staff shortly before leaving office, the daily Lidové noviny writes. The sum is reported to be three and a half times bigger than that which government employees received in the same period last year. Former ministers have dismissed the idea that the bonuses could be interpreted as a golden handshake at the end of their three-year-term in office, saying there had been more work for everyone following a streamlining of the administration. The Rusnok cabinet which was appointed to office earlier this month has already replaced public officials at key posts in several ministries.
Ex-president Vaclav Klaus’ controversial amnesty, declared in January of this year, has so far halted the prosecution of 904 people accused in close to 500 cases, according to the Supreme State Attorney’s Office. The figure is not final since the process of assessing other cases is still underway. The majority of these cases concerned prosecution on suspicion of property crimes, such as fraud and embezzlement followed by bribery, abuse of office and tax evasion. The controversial article also applies to some to high-profile cases of financial fraud and corruption for which the Supreme Court has requested an appellate review.
Czech customs officials have seized smuggled rhino horns worth 100 million Czech crowns on the black market. Sixteen people were arrested in the operation last week, according to the CTK news agency. The police and the Czech Environment Inspection office are expected to release more information on the case at a joint press briefing in Prague on Tuesday.
The country’s largest bank Česká Spořitelna has apologized to its clients for problems with its internet banking service. The problems which persisted throughout Monday affected predominantly its BUSINESS 24 service, as well as its Telebanking and S-Card call lines. The bank says its other services as well as its money machines are fully functional.
Less than a third of Czechs return rested and relaxed from their holidays, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by zamestnanci.com. According to the poll results only 28 percent of respondents said they felt reinvigorated after their time off, as compared to 39 percent in 2008. The poll revealed that Czechs increasingly opt for shorter holidays, mostly for the duration of a week, and many of them remain on-call, dealing with pressing work issues over the phone. They also try to pack as many sights and destinations into that brief time as possible, often leaving them exhausted upon their return.
The corruption case against three former Civic Democratic MPs will most likely be dropped, the Olomouc High State Prosecutor Ivo Ištvan said on the Sunday Czech TV talk show. The three former Civic Democrat deputies faced bribery charges for allegedly having agreed to quit their seats in the lower house in return for posts in state-run companies. The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that their actions were covered by their parliamentary immunity, which is why, according to Mr. Ištvan, state prosecution will not be able to continue with the same case.
In an effort to garner support for the caretaker government of Jiří Rusnok, President Miloš Zeman has begun meeting with representatives of parties in the lower house of parliament. On Sunday before noon, the president met with Kateřina Klasnová, the head of the Public Affairs party deputies’ group, to discuss their possible support of the current government in a confidence vote. Afterwards the president will meet with Prime Minister Rusnok and is planning on meeting with leaders of the other parties during the next week. Mr. Rusnok will need to get the support of the majority of the MPs present at the confidence vote in the lower house. So far, former coalition partners - the Civic Democrats and the TOP 09 party – said that they will not support the caretaker government. The Social Democrats, who have the large number of deputies, have not definitively announced their preference.
Meteorologists have issued wildfire warnings for the whole of the country, except for mountainous areas, due to the dry and hot weather conditions. The past week has been the driest one in the Czech Republic in the past 60 years, according to meteorologists. According to a monthly forecast released by the Czech Hydrometeorological Office, the rest of July will also see very warm weather and very little precipitation. It is expected that 1-28 July of this year will be a four-week period with possible the least amount of rainfall since 1951.