In Business News: the IMF has advised the Czech government against making further budget cuts in view of the country’s worse-than-expected economic development; Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has questioned the financial wisdom of expanding the Temelín nuclear power plant; Czech arms producer Česká zbrojovka has won a multi-million crown tender to supply 50,000 pistols to the Egyptian interior ministry and the Czech liqueur maker Rudolf Jelínek posted its first loss since 1998.
A Czech brewery is taking the country’s leading consumer magazine to court over tests which detected high levels of mould in one of its brews. The Svijany brewery questions the accuracy of the findings, as additional testing did not find increased levels of mycotoxins in its beer. In an email leaked to the press, the brewery’s manager also says that government subsidies for the magazine should be cut.
The police have uncovered close to one million liters of untaxed liquor in storage in a number of warehouses around the country. The tanks of alcohol had been cemented underground in order to escape inspections relating to the methanol scandal which broke out last year. Several people from an unspecified firm have been detained for questioning. The loss in taxes is estimated at 300 million crowns. The police’s organized crime squad is on the case.
After last year’s methanol affair in the Czech Republic, the police redoubled efforts in uncovering bootleg liquor. A week ago, it was confirmed Tuesday, they found three secret sites and uncovered close to one million litres of undeclared alcohol. Earlier searches at different warehouses around the country missed the hidden chambers as they were sealed underground beneath metre-thick concrete.
The European Commission has approved Czech company Agrofert’s acquisition of German bakery chain Lieken AG, the commission said in a statement on Friday. Lieken, Germany’s leader in bread making, was previously owned by the Italian company Barilla; the sale was closed in February. Agrofest Group, owned exclusively by Mr Andrej Babiš, is the largest Czech agriculture and food holding.
Undeclared horsemeat has once again been found in products sold in the Czech Republic, this time in canned meat from Latvia. The Czech authorities were alerted by German inspectors, who found this particular product to contain up to 87% of horsemeat. According to the Czech food inspection agency, the products do not seem to be harmful, but since no horsemeat was listed on the label, they will have to be taken off the shelves. Some 144 cans were imported to the Czech Republic, meant for Russian specialties shops.
The sixth annual Czech Beer Festival started on Thursday. The 16-day event, which highlights the best Czech-brewed beers is taking place at the Holešovice Exhibition Grounds in Prague. Entrance is free every weekday before 2 pm. Live concerts will be held in the evenings for the duration of the festival.
Speaking in Warsaw on Monday, Prime Minister Nečas said the Czech Republic would take part in a tender to supply subsonic training fighter jets to the Polish military, including planes owned by the Czech Army. The Czech leader said Prague was also willing to provide customised training on the Czech-made L-159 jets. Mr. Nečas was heading a sizable Czech delegation that also included the ministers of defence, transport, agriculture and regional development. To date, representatives of manufacturer Aero Vodochody and the Czech state have been unsuccessful in efforts to sell the trainers to a number of countries.
The Czech Republic today remains Europe’s only nation which does not restrict smoking in pubs, bars, cafés and other establishments. The government is pushing to change this, with the Czech Parliament soon due to vote on a comprehensive smoking ban. But despite strong public support, the initiative may run aground over opposition against the bill among lawmakers.