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MPs debate civil service act

The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Wednesday began debating a civil service bill. The legislation, put forth by the centre-left Czech government, should overhaul the rules for the employment of public servants. A similar act was adopted by Czech lawmakers in 2002 as a prerequisite for the country’s accession to the European Union but it has never entered into force. The current bill has come under criticism from the opposition which says the legislation will make it impossible to fire officials nominated by the coalition parties; however, the government claims the European Commission will halt subsidies for the Czech Republic if the bill is not approved.

Prague hospital reaches record settlement in birth brain injury case

Prague’s Vinohrady hospital has reached an out-of-court settlement with the family of a boy who suffered a serious brain injury during birth at the hospital in 2009. The facility has agreed to pay some 20 million crowns, or around one million US dollars, to the family, the hospital’s director told the news agency ČTK. It is the highest amount ever paid in compensation by a Czech health facility. Doctors at the hospital faced accusations of malpractice after they ignored signs pointing to a complicated delivery. The boy was born blind and deaf and requires continuous care. In June, a court in Prague ordered the hospital to pay 30 million crowns in compensation in a ground-breaking verdict which the hospital said it would appeal.

Press: Czech embassy in Kabul evacuated over terrorist threat

The Czech embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul has been evacuated over a terrorist threat, the news website lidovky.cz reported on Wednesday quoting a high Czech government official. The Czech Foreign Ministry has refused to comment. The evacuation allegedly took place at a time when Defence Minister Martin Stropnický announced plans to visit the Czech army contingent stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s ISAF mission.

Wounded Czech soldier returns from Afghanistan

A 36-year-old member of the Czech army contingent in Afghanistan, wounded in Sunday’s attack in the Parwan province, has been transported to Prague, the Czech army said in a press release on Wednesday. The soldier suffered injuries after his vehicle got under fire from insurgents in the vicinity of the Bagram base. Several days before, four Czech soldiers were killed in a suicide attack near the base, and another died after he was airlifted to Prague. The wounded soldier will undergo treatment in Prague’s military hospital, the army said.

PM will discuss possible Czech posts with incoming European Commission head

Government parties again failed to agree on a Czech nominee to be European Commissioner following a meeting on Tuesday night. The three contenders put forward by the parties are still in contention. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had said he wanted a result before leaving for a Brussels summit on Wednesday. He will now discuss the possible posts that Czech candidates might receive with incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker before the negotiations resume again in Prague.

Transport ministry calls for bids for registration plates production

The Czech Transport Ministry has called for bids for the production of vehicle registration plates. For the past 13 years, the Brno-based firm Hicon has been the exclusive supplier of registration plates for the ministry. Transport Minister Antonín Prachař has criticized the system, and complained that the authorities had not been able to open the deal to other bidders. The state annually pays around 240 million crowns for some 1.4 million registration plates. However, the ministry is planning to overhaul the system so that in 2016, vehicle owners would buy the plates from one of several licensed producers.

MasterCard: Prague ranks as Europe’s ninth most attractive city for visitors

Around 4.89 million people are set to visit the Czech capital this year which makes it the ninth most attractive city in Europe, according to the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities for 2014. London, with an estimated 18.7 million visitors, tops the global index, followed by Bangkok, Paris and Singapore. Prague, which last year ranked 10th among Europe’s most popular destinations, is supposed to attract 400,000 more visitors than in 2013, and 1.1 million more than in the previous year. MasterCard CEO for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Miroslav Lukeš said that in total, tourists are expected to spend around 3.8 million dollars on each day of their stay in Prague.

Industry minister: 84 firms received investment incentives between January and June

In total, 84 foreign companies received investment incentives from the Czech government in the first six months of this year, Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek told reporters on Wednesday. Up to 10,000 new jobs should be created in the Czech Republic as a result, according to Mr Mládek. The ministry also provided incentives to 54 domestic companies which should create another 4,000 jobs. Minister Mládek also noted the Czech Republic would continue developing its nuclear energy sector, a plant that will be reflected in the country’s new national energy strategy to be revealed by the end of the year.

Central Prague district unhappy with Tesco-owned convenience stores

The district of Prague 1 is not happy with a network of Tesco-owned Žabka convenience stores located in buildings owned by the municipality,, the district’s mayor, Oldřich Lomecký, told a news conference on Wednesday. Mr Lomecký said the local town hall was dissatisfied with the stores’ standards, the choice of available products and their quality; as a result, the authorities will cancel a rental contract with one of the stores, and would like to discuss the issue with Tesco management. If the situation does not improve by the end of the year, the municipality will consider renting the facilities to other firms, according to the mayor. Tesco acquired the nation-wide network of 135 Žabka convenience stores in 2011.

Environmentalists target Lego’s Czech plant in Arctic oil protest

The Czech branch of the Greenpeace environmental group on Wednesday staged a protest outside the toy producer Lego’s Czech plant. The protest is part of the group’s global campaign criticising Lego for its partnership with the oil firm Shell which is planning to expand its drilling operations in the Arctic. In a statement released on its website, Lego CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said Greenpeace should handle the matter with Shell; meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace’s Czech branch said the protest was not aimed against Lego but was meant to highlight their cooperation with Shell.

Sparta Prague put seven without reply past Estonian opponents

In football, Sparta Prague won the first leg of the pre-qualifying Champions League match against Estonian champions Levadia Tallinn 7:0. Sparta captain David Lafata scored five goals with a hat-trick already in the bag before the break. The return leg in a week’s time in Estonia now looks like being more or less a formality.