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PM calls meeting over fast-tracking legislation to reduce data prices

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a meeting of representatives of all parliamentary parties on Friday to discuss a bill on electronic communications. Mr. Sobotka is hoping to win support for an accelerated process of debating the legislation, which is aimed at reducing data charges for smartphone users. Inaction over data prices has been cited as a reason for the dismissal of Jan Mládek as minister for industry and trade. Mr. Sobotka has taken over that portfolio until a congress of his Social Democrats next month.

Babiš and Chovanec to accompany Zeman on April US trip

The minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, and the interior minister, Milan Chovanec, will accompany President Miloš Zeman when he travels to the United States in April, Mr. Zeman’s spokesman said on Tuesday. The Czech head of state is due to meet US president Donald Trump at the White House on the trip, which is planned for the second half of the month. Mr. Zeman has invited Mr. Trump to visit the Czech Republic in December. The Czech president was one of the few European leaders to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy for the White House.

Kellner’s PPF group opens bank in UK

The Czech Republic’s PPF investment group has acquired a licence to set up a new bank in the UK, iHned.cz reported on Tuesday. Clear Bank will primarily focus on financial transactions between British banks, the news website said. It will be the first new clearing bank in the UK for 250 years. PPF, which is owned by the richest Czech, Petr Kellner, already majority owns the credit company Home Credit, Air Bank and PPF Banka. Clear Bank is currently in a pilot phase and will launch fully in the autumn.

Babiš “cannot imagine” coalition with Communists or Okamura

ANO chief Andrej Babiš says he cannot imagine forming a government with the Communist Party or populist Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy after elections this autumn. Speaking on Czech Television, Mr. Babiš said, however, that there were honest people with whom agreement could be reached in every party. ANO, who are currently in government with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, have been leading in the opinion polls for some time. The Social Democrats have also raised the possibility of forming a coalition with the Communists, who have been shunned as potential partners at national level since 1989.

Vets to put down over 30,000 birds at West Bohemian farms over bird flu

Vets will on Thursday put down over 30,000 chickens and ducks at two poultry farms in Cheb, West Bohemia after the confirmation of cases of bird flu. It will be the biggest single extermination of poultry since the current wave of avian flu began. The outbreak is the third detected in the region and the 37th in the Czech Republic. To date almost 60,000 birds have been put down because of the disease.

Police want four charged over attacks on businesses in Hate Free project

The police have proposed the charging of four people over the spraying of neo-Nazi symbols on Prague cafés and shops aligned with the Hate Free project. The four are accused of criminal damage and expressing sympathy for a group aimed at suppressing rights and freedoms. Seven businesses that had signed up as “Hate Free zones” were targeted in the attacks in April last year. The Hate Free Culture campaign combatting intolerance and racism is run by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion.

Weather forecast

It should be rainy with some bright spells in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 7 degrees Celsius. Day time highs are then set to rise, climbing to 13 degrees Celsius at the weekend.