The inaugural anti-corruption report released by the European Commission on Monday highlights the Czech Republic’s problems with public procurement and abuse of public funds. Some 95 percent of people consider corruption a widespread phenomenon in the Czech Republic, the report says quoting a survey by the EU’s polling agency Eurobarometer. The report urges the Czech Republic to adopt civil service legislation and to overhaul rules for the financing of political parties. The EU-wide report, says that corruption levels in the bloc are “breathtaking”, costing the European economy at least 120 billion euro each year.
The Czech Foreign Ministry and NGOs have distributed over 160 million crowns in aid to Syria since the crisis began, the ČTK news agency reported on Monday citing the country’s leading humanitarian organization People in Need. According to People in Need close to 40 percent of the NGO’s aid budget is now going to Syria where the organization operates two offices with the help of 50 local volunteers. The NGO supports 25 schools in the country and distributed daily bread portions to 20,000 people. It also brings aid to refugee camps in surrounding countries such as Turkey.
The Czech-born, Lebanon-based fashion designer Blanka Matragi will design new uniforms for Czech Airlines and other parts of the Czech Aeroholding, a spokeswoman for the group said on Monday. The state-own firm chose Matragi, who settled in Lebanon in the 1970s, from among 14 designers. The designer will have to respect the firm’s colour scheme dominated by dark blue. Czech Airlines also want the new uniforms to be more conservative than the currently used attires. Czech Airlines flight attendants and other employees should get new uniforms in 2015.
In related news, Prague City Hall fined Matragi Fashion, a firm co-owned by fashion designer Blanka Matragi, over the destruction of a villa in Prague 6 listed as a protected monument, the news agency the head of the city hall’s monument protection department said. ČTK reported. The amount of the fine was not disclosed but could reach two million crowns. The fashion company received permission to renovate the villa, located in the Ořechovka district; however, the building collapsed in the process and was completely removed. The company has filed an appeal against the fine to the Culture Ministry.
Czech internet providers have joined forces in order to increase their protection against DoS hacking attacks, one of the providers involved in the project said. The alliance, entitled Safe VLAN, will provide connection to its members facing attacks to ensure their services remain available to clients. Six major providers, including CZ.NIC, Dial Telecom, Seznam.cz and Telefónica Czech Republic have joined the project so far.
Czech President Miloš Zeman will spend four days at the Olympic Games in Sochi, a spokesman for his office said. Mr Zeman, who will arrive in Sochi on Thursday, will dine with members of the Czech Olympic Team. On Friday, the Czech head of state is set to attend a reception held by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for foreign officials before attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The president would also like to see a speed skating event during his visit so that he can express support for Czech champion Martina Sáblíková. Other Czech officials who are set to visit the Olympic Games in Sochi include the speakers of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Milan Štěch and Jan Hamáček, as well as the head of the Czech Roman Catholic church, Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš told Czech Public Television on Sunday that civil servants would get a two percent wage rise in 2014. The finance minister denied claims that he was against wage increases this year, saying that police officers would get an additional 1.4 billion crowns for wage hikes and the creation of a thousand new jobs.
The Prague Transport Authority has indicated there may have been irregularities in the construction of Prague metro’s A line to Motol. The Prague Transport Authority is conducting an internal audit into the construction which is still underway and according to unofficial sources the building company in charge of the extension may have failed to call public tenders on some of the work undertaken. The head of the PTA Jaroslav Duriš said on Sunday the results of the audit would be made public within two weeks. He said some irregularities have been uncovered though they were not as serious as presumed earlier. The extended A line to Motol should open to the public in early 2015.
President Miloš Zeman is to pay a state visit to Russia in the second half of this year, according to the new Czech ambassador to Moscow Vladimir Remek. The ambassador said the visit, which is currently being planned would include talks with Russian President Putin, government officials and the country’s business leaders. President Zeman is expected to travel to Sochi next week to attend the Winter Olympics on which occasion he will attend a reception for visiting heads of state hosted by the Russian president.
The central banks forex interventions against the Czech crown have sent the price of food products up by ten percent and more with an increasing number of people now heading abroad to do their weekly shopping, novinky.cz reports. Basic food products are now reported to be cheaper in Poland, Slovakia and Germany, with people saving up to a 1,000 on a shopping trip. The internet news site says that many milk and meat products are significantly cheaper in Germany despite the fact that German wages are significantly higher –the average monthly wage in Germany is around 3,700 euros while the average Czech monthly wage is just around 900 euros.