Daily news summary News

06-06-2011

Czech ministry receives Paris court verdict in Diag Human case

The Czech Health Ministry has received a verdict by a Paris court that might lead to the seizure of Czech state property in France in a protracted arbitration case against the firm Diag Human. A ministry spokesman said lawyers representing the Czech Republic were studying the document, however, he did not specify whether the court upheld Diag Human’s case. The Swiss plasma dealer Diag Human demands around ten billion crowns from the Czech Republic in compensation for allegedly thwarted the firm’s business in the 1990s. While the company says an international court of arbitration ruled in its favour in 2008, Czech authorities claim the arbitration process has not yet come to an end. Several Czech-owned artworks were seized by an Austrian court last week in the same case. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said his ministry was trying to prevent the seizure of the Czech Centre building in Paris.

Czech authorities release Pakistani terror suspect

Czech authorities released on Monday Pakistani terror suspect Muhammad Zafar over Pakistan’s failure to supply the required extradition documents, the news website ekonom.cz reported. Mr Zafar was detained in Prague in late June on an international arrest warrant; he is wanted in Pakistan for questioning related to a 2006 bombing of the US consulate in Karachi which killed a US diplomat and three Pakistani citizens. Ekonom.cz reported this was second time Mr Zafar evaded extradition; he had also been detained in Spain to be later released for the same reason. It’s not clear whether the suspect will stay in the Czech Republic where he reportedly applied for asylum. However, Czech law does not allow extradition to countries where death penalty could be imposed on the suspect.

Czech authorities check meat imported from Germany over E.coli

The Czech veterinary inspection launched on Monday checks of meat imports from Germany in an effort to curb the spread of the E.coli food bug. A spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration said the inspections, involving shipments of German pork and beef, are set to continue until the end of the week. The cause of the E.coli outbreak has not yet been determined; test have so far failed to confirm German-grown bean sprouts or Spanish vegetables as the source of the mutated E.coli outbreak were cleared. The infection has killed 22 people while hundreds of others contracted the disease.

Dentists threaten to cancel health insurance contracts over tooth fillings

Some Czech dentists have threatened to quit the country’s public insurance system if basic tooth fillings are not taken out from its insurance policies. The head of the Czech dentists’ association, Pavel Chrz said on Monday many of his colleagues already only work with a few selected insurance companies and demand out-of-pocket payments from patients covered by other policies. The Czech health minister, Leoš Heger, suggested basic tooth fillings be taken out of public health insurance but changed his mind after pressure from the coalition Public Affairs party. Mr Chrz however did not specify how many Czech dentists would consider getting out of the public insurance system.

Czech output growth in April lowest in 16 months

The Czech Republic’s industrial output grew in April by 4.7 percent year-on-year after a revised increase of 9.2 percent in March, according to government figures released on Monday. April’s output growth was the lowest in 16 months. Manufacturing grew by 6.1 percent in April, down by around 5.5 percent registered in the previous month. Analysts believe pressure on lowering costs and limited external sources of financing were the major factors behind the slower growth.

Ostrava city transport workers end strike after reaching wages deal

City transport workers in Ostrava on Monday reached a deal with the company management on increasing their salaries, and will end their six-day strike. Under the agreement, salaries of bus drivers and office workers will grow by 5 percent next year, rather than 8 percent as originally demanded by the trade unions. Manual workers’ salaries will increase by 6 percent in 2012. The strike, which began last week Sunday, is set to end on Monday midnight. The director of the city-owned firm estimated the costs of the strike at around 70 million crowns.

Culture Ministry to merge Prague State Opera and National Theatre

The Czech Culture Ministry has decided to merge Prague State Opera and the National Theatre, news agency ČTK reported on Monday, citing the opera’s director Oldřich Černý. Prague State Opera will cease to exist as an independent body in January, 2012, after more than 120 years. Mr Černý said that the ballet ensembles of the National Theatre and the State Opera will merge into one while their choirs and orchestras will remain separate. By merging the two institutions, the ministry plans to save on administrative costs. However, the move is opposed by employees of both theatre houses. On Monday, the Prague State Opera is holding a gala concert in support of its independence. More than 15,000 people have signed a petition to keep the opera house separate from the National Theatre.

Coalition leaders fail to resolve ongoing personnel issues within cabinet

Coalition leaders of the country’s centre-right government were unable to resolve ongoing personnel issues within the cabinet at a meeting on Sunday evening. The leaderships of the three parties, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and the Public Affairs party, are set to discuss possible solutions before negotiations resume on Tuesday. The head of the Public Affairs party, Radek John, said that the situation was serious.

Ahead of the Sunday meeting, the junior coalition member Public Affairs announced they would push for four ministerial posts for their party. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has made it clear that for the government coalition to survive, it is vital that its key reforms be passed. Earlier this year, a corruption scandal within Public Affairs led to a government crisis and caused a cabinet shake-up.

State forestry firm Lesy ČR profits double in Q1

The state-owned forestry firm Lesy ČR on Monday posted a gross profit of 2.78 billion crowns, or more than 167 million US dollars, for the first quarter of this year, up by nearly 100 percent from the same period last year. The company’s revenues rose by 35 percent in the first three months of 2011. Last year, Lesy ČR which owns about half of the forests in the country, posted a record gross profit of 3.13 billion crowns.

IAEA inspects Dukovany nuclear plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency began on Monday an inspection of the Czech nuclear power plant in Dukovany. Experts from the agency’s Operational Safety Team, or OSART, are focusing on the safety of the plant’s two reactors during their mission that will concluded on June 23, a spokesman for the facility said, without giving further details. This is the second part of the inspection; its initial three-day phase which took place in March focused on the plant’s personnel training. The Dukovany nuclear plant, completed in the mid 1980s, was last inspected by IAEA experts ten years ago.

Weather

Hot and occasionally wet weather is set to continue for the next few days, with storms in places. Daytime highs should range between 25 and 29 degrees Celsius.

06-06-2011