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Reuters: EC considering ban on Huawei for 5G mobile network

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 officials.

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.

Government preparing tax reform

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.

Dutch company suing Czech Republic over poppy seed business scam

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.

Protest against security checks at Prague Castle

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.

Czech Film Critics' Award for Best Film goes to drama Jan Palach

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.

Heavy snowfall complicating traffic

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 fresh snow.

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.

Weather forecast

Monday should bring clear to partly cloudy skies with day temperatures between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius.