In Business News this week: Czech public debt reaches new high; unemployment remains at 7.5 percent in August; Senate curbs subsidies for renewable energy sources; tighter rules are introduced for liquor retailers; prices of potatoes and dairy products jump; and record number of dollar millionaires recorded in Czech Republic.
Around 1,000 people received a free lunch on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Tuesday in a campaign highlighting food waste. A group called Save Food handed out meals prepared from products that would otherwise have been discarded by supermarkets as they neared their expiry date. The ingredients were supplied by Makro and Tesco, the only supermarket chains cooperating with Czech food banks. The organizers said Czech legislation should allow retailers to hand out nearly expired foodstuffs to groups working with homeless and socially handicapped people.
Miroslav Toman, who holds the Agriculture portfolio, is the third minister from the interim Czech government selected to stand for the Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites. Mr. Toman will head the grouping’s candidate list in the Ústí nad Labem region, a spokesperson said on Thursday night. The minister of the interior, Martin Pecina, and the minister of labour and social affairs, František Koníček, have already been announced as Zemanite candidates. The caretaker cabinet, which is led by Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, was installed by President Zeman despite the fact that a previous coalition said it could deliver a majority in the lower house. The government failed to win backing in a confidence vote and MPs subsequently voted to dissolve Parliament.
In Business News this week: miners plan protest against management at OKD; the Czech firearms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka expects increased revenues; the Czech Republic drops seven spots in global competitiveness rankings; South Moravian breweries will be busy in the month of September launching a number of special beers.
A draft of the state budget for 2014 recons with a deficit of 110 billion crowns, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. The budget cuts funding for the transport and education portfolios while increases expenditures for the ministries of agriculture and industry. The deficit is 5 billion higher than that planned by the previous centre-right government of Petr Nečas; however, the expected deficit should remain under the target of 3 percent of GDP. The government is to send the draft budget to the lower house by the end of September; however, MPs will only be able to debate it two months later, after the early general election.
Charges against 31 people involved in last year’s methanol scandal will be raised in the autumn, a prosecutor in Zlín told the Czech news agency ČTK on Sunday. The accused face charges of manufacturing and distributing methanol-laced bootleg liquor which killed over 40 people, mainly in the north-east of the country; seven of the accused face charges of intentionally endangering public safety, a crime which carries up to 20 years in prison. Three people are awaiting the trial in custody.
The Jan Becher liquor company has posted a 171 million crown pre-tax profit in the financial year 2012-2013, which amounts to an 80 million crown loss year-on-year. The company ascribes the drop to the brief period of prohibition in late 2012 enforced in connection with the methanol crisis and the drop in liquor sales in the following months. Becherovka sales suffered not only in the Czech Republic, but in Slovakia, Russia, Germany, Hungary and Ukraine. The appearance of deadly methanol-laced bootleg liquor on the market caused a nation-wide scare, claiming 47 lives. The sale of all spirits plummeted in the wake of the scandal.
A court in Ostrava on Friday sentenced two men to eight years in prison for selling bootleg methanol laced liquor. The court said the men sold 80 litres of alcohol containing 50 percent of methanol on the black market; one person died and four others suffered serious injuries as a result. Another 32 people face trial for producing and selling methanol-laced alcohol; the trial with the heads of the bootlegging network should start in the coming months. More than 40 people have died of methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic since last September when the crisis started.
In Business News this week: viewers get a first glimpse of the redesigned Škoda YETI; the grain and rapeseed harvests this year are a success; the number of self-employed has moved closer to one million; tourist agencies are offering clients travelling to Egypt a chance to switch destinations at the last minute; the Czech Republic is out of recession.
The first public trial connected to the methanol poisoning tragedy last year began in Ostrava on Tuesday. The defendants, Petr Hlava and Marek Ženíšek, allegedly sold over 70 bottles of alcohol with false labels last October, most of which contained a lethal amount of methylalcohol. The police claim that the two men did so knowingly and could have caused hundreds of fatalities. In the end, one man died and six others were hospitalized and some will suffer long-term health problems as a result of ingesting the toxic drink. The man who died was the 31st victim of the so-called methanol affair, during which 47 people died as a result of drinking hard liqueur containing lethal amounts of methanol.
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