Long queues have been forming at local registry offices for motor vehicles as drivers scramble to exchange old licenses for new ones. The deadline for the exchange of licences issued between 2001 and 2004 expires on the last day of 2013, after which drivers will have to pay for a new license and may get fined by the police in the event of a check-up. Many local registry offices have extended working hours over the past week in order to facilitate the process.
The Czech power giant ČEZ has said it will appeal the decision of the Bulgarian energy regulator to cut energy prices for consumers from January 2014. A spokesman for the company said ČEZ was now analyzing projected losses which are expected to be severe. The Bulgarian State Energy Commission this week announced a plan to reduce electricity prices for Bulgarian households by one per cent starting January, at the same time cutting the night-time rate by 10 per cent and electricity prices for industrial consumers by 1.5 per cent. Electricity prices have been a sensitive issue in Bulgaria this year, one of the major complaints behind massive anti-government protests and energy prices have already been reduced twice in 2013 to stave of growing public discontent.
Meteorologists say that in certain parts of the Czech Republic Czechs enjoyed the warmest Christmas in over a century. The monitoring station in Opava, Silesia, measured a high of 8.7 degrees on Christmas Day which broke a 151-year-old record. Přerov reported a high of 9.3 degrees Celsius, the highest in 140 years. Temperatures tend to be higher in the Czech capital where the warmest Christmas ever monitored was in 1983 where the Klementinum monitoring station recorded 14.6 degrees Celsius.
The Czech economy is expected to grow by over 2 percent next year following contraction over the past two years, analysts polled by the CTK news agency said. Global recovery and projected changes to the government´s budgetary policy are behind the favourable prediction. Analysts believe that, despite the central bank´s forex interventions to weaken the crown, inflation will stay low at the start of next year due above all to falling energy prices and unemployment will stay above 7 percent.
Air pollution is reported to have worsened severely in parts of Moravia and Silesia with the concentration of dust particles in the air far exceeding permitted norms at all but one of the 15 monitoring stations in operation. According to data from the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute the concentration of harmful substances in the air is more than three times the permitted norm. The authorities have advised elderly people and children to stay indoors as much as possible. The situation is being closely monitored by city hall which has the right to call a smog alert and ask industrial plants to scale-down production.
The Czech Republic’s external debt in Q3 decreased by 78.8 billion crowns to 1,946 billion, the Czech National Bank reports. This amounts to 50.6 percent of the GDP. The decrease in debt was aided chiefly by a decline in the corporate sector’s external liabilities. External liabilities with an original maturity of more than one year accounted for 76.6% of overall debt liabilities. External financial assets increased by 17.6 billion in Q3, reaching 2,775.2 billion. The year-on-year increase in assets was due to growth in the external assets of the banking sector and Czech direct investment abroad.
Three ostriches escaped from a farm near the town of Benešov over the weekend. The local police are helping the breeder and owner of the farm look for the animals. The owner said that the ostriches kicked open the fence of their corral after being frightened by shots fired by hunters in the vicinity. The farmer had bought four birds of the species Greater Rhea as a test run for possible future breeding.
An increasing number of Czechs say they have trouble meeting their basic needs on their monthly salary, the internet news site novinky.cz reports. Over 100,000 people admit to moonlighting but according to unofficial estimates the number of people making extra money on the side is well over one million. This is often undeclared income from helping out with various jobs in people’s homes or assisting with building work at private homes and cottages. One hundred and fifty thousand pensioners have retained their jobs even after reaching retirement age.
The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has put forward a proposal to change the system of increasing pensions. According to the proposal, pensions should be raised based on the growth of household expenses for pensioners, which the ministry hopes will prevent the drop in the real value of pensions. Jiri Rusnok’s government has raised the pensions by an average of 45 crowns, which will come into effect in January. The Labor Minister has proposed to raise pensions again in July. The Finance Minister is against the proposal for a new calculation system.
The Czech under-20 hockey team lost to the Germans 0:3 at the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden on Monday. This places him in the last place in Group A, just one point behind the German team. To make it into the quarterfinal, the Czech team will have to beat the Slovaks on Tuesday. They had an unexpected win against Canada on Sunday.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Czech IT specialists organize “hackathon” to give government online motorway vignette sales system for free
Minister: Czech Republic won’t take in 40 child refugees from Greek camps
CzechTourism head hints attracting tourists no longer agency’s main goal
EU, Russia row over WWII, with Poles and Czechs on front lines