The Czech National Bank launched the first monetary intervention since 2002 on Thursday afternoon. The bank’s council announced that it is aiming to lower the value of the crown to around 27 for one euro. Immediately after the announcement, the crown dropped from 25.8 to the euro to 26.63. Although there have been speculation about possible intervention for the last few months, many analysts have been surprised by the move, given that it did not seem necessary at this point, given the recent trade balance figures. The national bank’s council also voted not to change the interest rate.
The Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) has warned of the growing problems with public tenders. In their annual report, released on Thursday, the agency points out that it has repeated noted irregularities with the way public tenders were held. A common element in most of the cases, the report states, was the presence of informal ties between employees of public institutions and people who stood to profit from rigged procurement proceedings. The report also warns of possible social and political instability due to the growing frustration and anger at ineffective public institutions among some members of the public.
The Transport Ministry has ruled that Prague’s transit authority had broken the law when selecting a company for the expansion of the A line of the city’s subway system. The ministry has decided not to dispense 4.2 billion crowns of the 15.6 billion which were allotted for the project from EU funding. According to the news server Aktuálně.cz, this is the biggest de facto fine in the history of EU structural funds.
The Czech Supreme Audit Office has put out a joint analysis with its German counterpart of the prices of road constructions in the two countries. The results, which were published on Thursdazy, show that the construction of one kilometer of a road is more than 25 percent more expensive than in Germany. The report also made recommendations, which are meant to save up to 20 percent of the costs. Based on the experiences of the neighboring country, the Czech audit authorities recommend having a greater number of open tenders as well as breaking up large projects into smaller parts, and giving them to different companies. The report claims that if these rules were used, for example, in the construction of the Prague ring road, it would have saved the Road Authoritz at lest 790 million crowns.
At a regional meeting of the Social Democratic party in Moravian-Silesian region, two-thirds of the delegates voted to repeal the Bohumín resolution, which has prohibited the party from entering into a coalition with the Communist party on the national level. The resolution, which has been in effect since 1995, can be voted down only at the full-party convention. Some of the local members in the Moravia-Silesian region say a coalition the Communists would permit the Social Democrats not to compromise on their platform. The party’s vice chairman Lubomír Zaorálek, though, has said that the Bohumín resolution is not a prevalent issue at a time of internal struggles in the Social Democratic party.
The head of a team of doctors overseeing the health of the president, Health Minister Martin Holcát, reacted strongly on Wednesday to speculation by some media that a recent injury suffered by President Zeman was alcohol-related or that the president had collapsed in his home and fallen unconscious. Mr Zeman has been ordered to rest after suffering a late-night fall in which he injured his knee. He is expected to rely on a wheelchair for several weeks and has remained outside the public eye. The health minister slammed what he referred to as dishonest reporting and said as a result he would from now ob only issue written press releases on the president’s health, which he said was improving.
There were almost five million people staying in Czech hotels and pensions in the fourth quarter of this year, which is two percent more than at the same time last year. The number of both local and international tourists have increased, according to the Czech statistical office. Overall, the most tourists visited the Olomouc region, where their number increased by around 12 percent. Although the slight increase in encouraging, the Czech Republic’s tourist industry has fared a bit worse than other countries in the region, where the number of tourists this year increased by around eight percent.
Polish authorities have announced that as of Friday green borders with the Czech Republic will be closed for 15 days, as part of increased security measures ahead of the UN conference on climate change which will be held in Warsaw starting on 11 November. The green borders running between national parks in the Krkonoše and other mountain ranges. Travelers and hikers will now have to go through official border crossings in order to get into Poland.
This year’s Josef Škvorecký literary prize has been awarded to Jakuba Katalpa for her novel “Germans”. The 100-thousand crown prize, named after the famous Czech émigré writer and publisher, is awarded annual for the best work of new fiction in Czech. There were six finalists this year, instead of the usual five, which included well-known writers like Ivan Binar and Petra Hůlová. “Germans” is the fifth novel published by Jakuba Katalpa, whose real name is Tereza Jandová. The novel also received the Czech Book Prize this year.
Top Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych reignited his chances of continuing beyond the group phase of the ATP World Tour Finals: on Thursday he defeated Spain’s David Ferrer in straight sets. The final score was 6:4, 6:4. Berdych had lost his opening match to Stanislas Wawrinka; but, he will face world No. 1 Rafael Nadal next. Berdych lost in his last 15 appearances against Nadal, last defeating him in 2006.