Czech Senators on Thursday appealed to the country’s constitutional
bodies to take seriously the annual report by the Czech
counter-intelligence service and to fulfil its recommendations.
The upper House of the Parliament supported the call only week after President Miloš Zeman’s criticism of the Czech counterintelligence service.
The annual report which was released last week, warns of heightened activities on the part of Russian and Chinese agents in the country. The president said that the report failed to present any evidence to back its claims and described it as “blather”.
Customs police from Germany and Austria have confiscated dozens of
kilograms of hazardous fireworks purchased on marketplaces in the Czech
Police from Saxony, Bavaria and Upper and lower Austria continue to check drivers crossing the border from the Czech Republic for the possession of illegal fireworks. Authorities in both countries have already recorded several cases of serious injuries caused by the hazardous pyrotechnics sold on Czech outdoor markets.
Over 690 people in the Czech Republic were infected with tick-borne
encephalitis between January and November this year, which is more or less
the same as for the whole of 2017. The figure is also the highest since
2006, according to data published by the National Institute of Public
Health on Thursday.
The Czech Republic, along with the Baltic States, has the highest number of tick-borne encephalitis cases in Europe. There is no cure for encephalitis, but an increasing number of Czechs get themselves vaccinated against the disease.
The 17th century Pinkas Palace on Prague’s Kampa was auctioned off to an
anonymous bidder for 480 million crowns. The starting price of the early
Baroque building, which is situated close to Charles Bridge, was 470
According to experts, it is the biggest compulsory auction in the history of the Czech Republic. The building is currently undergoing reconstruction with expected costs estimated at 100 million crowns.
The Senate has returned an Insolvency Act amendment to the Chamber of
Deputies in part because the upper house wants to make it easier for the
poorest to qualify for debt relief or declare personal bankruptcy.
Senators also proposed abolishing a condition that repayment to creditors equal the cost of the insolvency trustee's remuneration. The current version was supported by Minister of Justice Jan Kněžínek (for ANO).
Statistics show close to one in ten Czech adults face financial execution. Currently, a person who pays off at least 30 percent of their debts within five years is eligible for debt relief. Their remaining outstanding debt is then forgiven.
Among other measures, MPs have been debating introducing a “fast-track” model that would allow a person who repays half their liabilities in three years to qualify for debt relief.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday evening approved the 2019 state
budget with a deficit of 40 billion crowns, or 0.7 percent of GDP.
It passed with 108 votes from the coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats with support from the Communists. All opposition MPs voted against it.
Budget priorities include increasing pensions overall and civil service salaries, in particular for teachers. The budget counts on economic growth in 2019 of 3.1 percent and an average inflation rate of 2.3 percent, with the unemployment holding steady at around 2.3 percent.
MPs voted on a number of amendments to redistribute funds within the budget, tabled by the Budget Committee and the Communists.
Some 600 million crowns will go to municipalities to repair and build schools and rent dwellings, as Communist MP Miloslav Vostra, chairman of the budget committee, had wanted; 327 million crowns more will go towards social services as pushed for by Social Democrat MP Roman Onderka; and 100 million crowns more than initially planned with go to firefighters and policemen, an initiative of Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček.
A ban on the consumption of wild boar hunted in an area of Moravia where
cases of African swine fever were detected will be partly lifted as of
January. The decision was announced by the Czech Veterinary Administration
Following consultations with the European Commission, the authority in October reversed its order for imported pork products to undergo tests for African swine fever, which had not been detected in commercial pig farms within the EU, but had been found among wild boar.
The authority said it would pay hunters 3,000 crowns for each boar killed, regardless of the animal’s weight. Until now, hunters were entitled to a premium of 4,000 crowns per wild boar under 50 kilograms and 8,000 crowns for heavier ones.
The Prague Castle Administration (SPH) has paid 11 million crowns for two
works by the late Kamil Lhoták, said to be President Miloš Zeman’s
Prague Castle and the Office of the President of the Czech Republic have been steadily adding to a collection of works by Czech painters to adorn the seat of the presidency.
Kamil Lhoták, who died in 1990, had no formal artistic education. He was a member of Group 42, whose members focused on everyday life in cities He also illustrated some 400 books for children and adults.
The two works obtained for the Prague Castle collection, entitled Two Balloons (1939) and Landscape Animated By a Machine (1944) will be on display in January and in February at the Picture Gallery of Prague Castle.
Czech Airlines (ČSA) will cancel its flights from Prague to Ostrava and
Bratislava as of January 11 and also discontinue service between the Slovak
capital and Košice.
The Czech carrier currently operates flights between Prague and Bratislava in both directions three times a week. Upon arrival in Bratislava, the flights continue on to Košice and back. It plans to have direct Prague to Košice flights in 2019.
In February, the company Travel Service, now operating under the name Smartwings, became the majority owner of Czech Airlines.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has banned the use of mobile phones by
Chinese telecoms company Huawei by Government Office (Úřad vlády)
The decision announced on Tuesday came in the wake of a report released by the National Bureau for Cyber Security and Information (NÚKIB) arguing that phones marketed by Chinese groups Huawei and ZTE could undermine state security.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade had already said it would immediately stop using Huawei products and other ministries are expected to follow suit.
Huawei has become the target of U.S. security concerns because of its ties to China’s government. Washington has warned countries could be exposing themselves to surveillance and data theft if they use Huawei products.
Former Czech Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová (unaffiliated ) said these concerns are nothing new but are only now going public. As minister, she already had Chinese mobile phones exchanged for her personal protection, she said.
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