The Czech Republic’s state dept has decreased by more than 14 billion crowns in September since the beginning of the year, according to information released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday. This is the first decrease in state dept since the 1990’s. Currently, the debt is 1.654 trillion, which amounts to more than 157,000 crowns per person in the Czech Republic.
Moody’s bond credit rating agency has announced that of all the Central European countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the least vulnerable to the adverse effects of the change in monetary policy of the American Federal Reserve. The agency expects that after the Fed limits its monetary stimulus policy, financial liquidity problems will arise in other countries, forcing interest rates to rise. The most vulnerable Central European country in this situation would be Hungary.
A human torso was found in the Vltava river on Thursday near the Barrandov bridge in Prague. A leg was found the day before near the river close by. Whether the two parts belonged to the same body has not been confirmed. The police are investigating the case, but have not released any further information.
The National Gallery in Prague has received five requests from religious institutions to return a total of 29 works of art, under the church property restitution law. The requests came, for example, from the Cistercian Order, the order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, the Augustinians and others. The National Gallery is hoping to agree with the orders to keep the pieces in their permanent collection as long-term loans. Under the church restitution law adopted last year, religious institutions are allowed to request the return of items which were functionally linked to the properties owned or restituted by the institutions.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok on Wednesday attended a session of the Senate to try and ensure safe passage for a number of government-proposed bills to which senators have tabled amendments. They include bills aimed at increasing contributions to the health system from state insurers and measures linked to public tenders. Following the dissolution of the chamber of deputies the fate of these bills is now in the hands of the Senate. Should the upper chamber reject them it could seriously complicate the running of the country. The debate is expected to continue on Thursday.
The Senate has approved a government proposal for the Czech Republic to send another 13 soldiers and a CASA plane to the U.N. mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula where they should serve from November until the end of 2014. The proposal comes in response to a request from the mission’s command which asked Prague for a CASA plane as well as technical personnel. The extension of Czech participation, which now comprises three military officers, requires the consent of the Senate, the upper house of parliament, in view of the fact that the lower house is dissolved.
Trade unions in the health sector have gone on strike alert to draw attention to what they describe as a looming crisis in the health sector and social services. The head of the umbrella organization of health and social services employees Dagmar Zitnikova said many hospitals and spa facilities were now on the brink of bankruptcy and these issues needed to be addressed urgently. She called on parties running in October’s general elections to make public their stand on the matter.
Czech and Israeli entrepreneurs have agreed to cooperate in finding new markets in Africa and Asia, according to the president of the Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce Pavel Smutný. Czech-Israeli business talks took place within President Miloš Zeman’s four-day state visit to Israel. Czech businesses, which export largely to EU member states, are seeking ways to diversify their interests and find new markets in Africa, Asia, China and India. They have criticized the former Czech government for closing down dozens of Czech embassies around the world in order to save money, saying the lack of representation was harming the country’s business interests.
Czech firms released a smaller volume of pollutants into the environment in 2012 than in 2011, but the quantity of mercury released into the air and water went up, the environmental watchdog Arnica reported on Wednesday. The main polluters are traditionally located in the industrialized regions of Moravia-Silesia, Ustí nad Labem and Central Bohemia. Power generating facilities, mainly plants operated by the state-owned power utility ČEZ continue to be the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, Arnica says. On the other hand the chemical plant Spolana Neratovice tops the list of polluters in the amount of potentially carcinogenic substances released. Overall the amount of carcinogenic substances released decreased by about one fifth compared with 2011.