Czech Railways increased fares on the country’s busiest routes by tens of
crowns at the beginning of this month, the Czech News Agency reported on
Monday. Fares were also reduced on routes with relatively few passengers,
under an expansion of a dynamic pricing scheme that responds to occupancy
Czech Railways introduced flexible pricing linked to current demand on some lines last year. It is now in place on most long-distance routes.
The Guardian has devoted attention to what it calls the breakthrough
verdict of the Černošice council on the Czech prime minister’s alleged
conflict of interests.
The Guardian notes that the Černošice council is the first Czech institution to declare that the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, still controls the giant multi-industry group Agrofert, even though he put the conglomerate into trust funds to meet a strict new conflict of interest law.
The daily notes that the verdict, issued on January 21st, could have wider resonance by influencing the outcome of the European Commission’s investigation into Agrofert’s receipt of EU subsidies in recent years. The prime minister has responded with anger to the Černošice ruling, which he described as “politicised” and vowed to challenge it.
The Czech branch of the international watchdog Transparency International filed a complaint both with the European Commission and the Černošice council - a small municipality just outside Prague where Babiš lives - because Czech law states that conflict of interest complaints must be registered with the relevant local authority.
Clean-up operations continue in many parts of the country following heavy
snow-fall over the weekend.
The situation is reported to be worst in Kladno, west of Prague, which declared a state of emergency on Sunday and the Usti and Olomouc regions which saw fresh snow overnight.
Maintenance crews have been out in force to clear up second and third class roads in southern Bohemia which saw 30 cm of fresh snow at the weekend. Fallen trees blocked roads and rail tracks disrupting traffic.
The eastern part of the country is expected to see more snow on Monday.
The government is preparing more significant income tax cuts than
previously planned to make up for the fact that the planned abolition of
the so-called “super-gross” tax wage has been postponed until 2021.
Under a tax reform bill being drafted by the Finance Ministry the income tax Czechs pay could drop from the present 20 to under 19 percent. Finance Minister Alena Schillerova told Czech Television she wanted to link the proposed tax changes with changes to the health insurance system.
On the other hand, the prime minister has stressed the need to cut expenditures in public administration and has requested ministers from his own party to outline their cost-saving plans.
Some two dozen people gathered outside Prague Castle on Sunday to protest
against the security checks at the gates to the Prague Castle compound,
which were introduced in 2016 and have remained in place since.
The security checks, which every tourist or local must undergo if they wish to enter the compound, have brought protests from travel agencies and members of the public who were used to visiting the seat of the head of state freely.
The president’s spokesman has repeatedly defended the security checks saying they were made following recommendations to the Office of the President by security experts.
The Dutch company Fynerdale Holdings is suing the Czech Republic over lost
investments in trade in poppy seeds.
The Dutch investor provided loans to the Czech company YTRIX a.s. and the Maltese company Poppyseed Limited, to be used for trade in poppy seeds produced in the Czech Republic.
The business turned out to be a scam and the Dutch firm claims the Czech government failed to act on the claimant’s criminal complaint regarding its business partners’ fraudulent activities, which allegedly entailed the loss of the company’s assets.
Fynerdale Holdings is demanding over 108 million US dollars in compensation.
Heavy snowfall has been complicating traffic around the country. Most
regions, including Central Bohemia and the capital Prague, saw heavy
snowfall overnight with some areas of the country getting 15 to 20 cm of
Although road maintenance crews have been out in force and working around the clock not all roads have been cleared and drivers have been warned to exercise extreme caution. Some roads have been closed to heavy trucks.
Prague’s international airport reported delays in scheduled landings and at least one flight was re-directed to Brno. Bus transport in Prague was also affected, with delays and some routes cancelled due to problematic terrain in the heavy snow.
Thousands of households in South Bohemia have been left without power.
A snow warning remains in place throughout Sunday.
Robert Sedláček’s film Jan Palach took the Czech Film Critics'
Award for Best Film at a gala event at Prague's Archa Theatre on
Saturday night. The film tells the true-life-story of a student who in 1989
took his own life in protest of growing public apathy to the 1968
Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The director’s award went to Olmo Omerzu for his road movie Všechno bude / Winter Flies and Best Screenplay went to Lucie Bokšteflová’s comedy Chata na prodej/Country-house for sale.
The European Commission is considering proposals that would amount to a
de-facto ban on Huawei Technologies Co. equipment for next-generation
mobile networks, the news agency Reuters reported citing four senior EU
The issue is a matter of concern in many EU member states, including the Czech Republic, where the National Cyber and Security Information Agency recently issued a warning regarding Huawei products. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš ordered the Office of the Government to cease using mobile phones produced by the Chinese company and Czech experts are now analysing the possible security risks to the country’s infrastructure.
The question of whether to ban Huawei from the 5G mobile network has raised controversy since it could mean delays and extra costs, undermining the country’s efforts to stay competitive.
Prime Minister Babiš recently called for cyber-security concerns to be addressed and resolved at EU-level.