The Czech machinery firm Škoda Transportation has won a contract to service trams in the Sardinian city of Cagliari, a spokeswoman for the company said. Under the five-year contract, worth 87 million crowns or 4.3 million US dollars, Škoda Transportation will provide complex servicing of the Italian city’s trams. In 2004, Škoda Transportation supplied nine low-floor tramways and 16 trolleybuses to the city.
Czech farmers this year harvested just over 637,000 tonnes of potatoes, the lowest yield since the 1920s, the Czech Association of Potato Growers said on Friday. In the 1990s, annual potato harvest exceeded two million tonnes. The historically lowest harvest is attributed to a long-term decrease in the cultivation area which diminished by nearly 11 percent between 2011 and 2012. Farmers now receive between six and seven crowns for one kilo of potatoes while their retail price is about double.
Czech astronomers would like to establish a “dark sky” area near the village of Manětín, in west Bohemia. The area of 315 square kilometres should improve conditions for astronomical observations, and reduce levels of light pollution. The idea has won support from the mayors of eight communities in the area which has one of lowest levels of population density in the country. There are now eight “dark sky” areas in Europe, two of them in the Czech Republic.
A court in Ústí nad Labem on Friday sentenced two former Boy Scout leaders, aged 21 and 23, to 10 years in prison for rape, sexual abuse and producing child pornography. The court said the two men abused 39 victims aged between 12 and 18 some of whom were members of the Boy Scout movement. The court also imposed a 10-year-ban on working with children on the men, and ordered them to undergo sex treatment. The Czech Boy Scout organization expelled the men from their ranks shortly after they were arrested in April 2012.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police has charged two people in relation to the controversial project of electronic health records, a spokesman for Prague’s state attorney said. The two people face charges of manipulating public procurement for the project, having allegedly caused damages of 450 million crowns. The project, known as IZIP, was launched in 2008, with the aim of transferring patients’ records into an electronic database. The total costs have reached over two billion crowns but it has been put on hold after very few physicians subscribed to it.
A spell of unusually warm weather has broken temperature records across the Czech Republic. A weather station in Prague’s Klementinum complex registered the temperature of 17.9 degrees Celsius on Friday, breaking the previous record of 16.5 degrees for November 8 from 1895. In Olomouc, meanwhile, the temperature of 16.8 degrees broke a record from 1928. Friday’s highest temperature – 20.1 degrees Celsius – was registered in Dyjákovice, in south Moravia.
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.