Security at Czech ministries, government offices and other state institutions has been tightened after the Interior Ministry received another letter containing suspicious substance on Friday, the third such letter to have arrived at the ministry over the last weeks. One of the letters was found to contain poison. A poison letter also arrived at the Finance Ministry last week while envelopes containing harmless substances have been delivered to the office of the president and the commercial TV channel Prima. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told a news conference on Friday the police would closely monitor mail delivered to state institutions which would receive manuals on recognizing potentially dangerous shipments. Mr Chovanec also said he believed that the perpetrators would soon be traced.
Czech consumers can look forward to lower electricity bills in 2015. The country’s Energy Regulatory Office on Wednesday announced a 1.2 percent drop in the regulated price of electricity for households which should save consumers hundreds, if not thousands, of crowns annually. Although the regulated component only accounts for 60 percent of the final electricity price, most suppliers have confirmed that the price of electricity will drop.
Electricity prices in the Czech Republic are set to drop slightly in 2015 while gas prices are expected to rise - the Energy Regulatory Authority has said. The authority announced it had succeeded in being able to cut regulated costs for electricity by an average 2.1% next year for the biggest consumers and predicts that wholesale electricity prices will fall by 5% over 2015. ERU chairwoman Alena Vitaskova said the costs of supporting renewable energy are expected to be cut by two billion crowns. Among the major changes next year are increased support for new capacity for electricity production from burning biomass with other fuels and cogeneration of heat and electricity.
The controversial Blanka tunnel complex in Prague will open in late March or early April, the Metrostav construction firm said on Friday. The tunnel, whose construction started in 2007, was originally to open in 2011 but has been hit by many delays, with the latest deadline set for December. The tunnel complex, which should channel through traffic from parts of Prague’s historic centre, has come under criticism for massive costs overruns which reached 37 billion crowns.
The central bank is preparing to tighten its policy on mortgage loans as of next year, the daily Hospodarské Noviny reports. Although it is not yet clear what form the restrictions may take Czech banks will no longer be prepared to cover the full cost of the real estate due to the high risk of potential losses.
The Finance Ministry has filed a criminal complaint against the Teaching Hospital in Ostrava over what is describes as the overpriced purchase of a cyber-knife. The Finance Ministry which has criticized an alleged lack of transparency in health spending, claims that at 200 million crowns the cyber knife was grossly overpriced and could have been acquired at half the price. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said on Thursday that his past conflict with Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček, who managed the hospital at the time of the purchase, was unrelated to the ministry’s decision to file the complaint.
The biggest Czech health insurance company VZP has announced it will stop sending cancer patients to the Prague Proton Therapy Centre and arrange for them to get treatment in Munich instead. The health insurer, which has been locked in a drawn-out dispute with the center over a dubious contract signed in the past, claims that the proton therapy center has doubled the cost of treatment since the summer and the price of treating a patient is now significantly higher than it would be in Munich. The insurer refuses to recognize the dubious contract signed in the past and the cost of treatment for each patient is now being settled individually.
Car production in the Czech Republic is likely to reach a record 1.2 million in 2014, according to the head of the country’s Automotive Industry Association Antonín Šípek. The production of cars over the past ten months has grown by nearly 12 percent compared to the same period last year, to 1.047 million. The country’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto increased its production by 5 percent to more than 600,000 cars. The current record for car production is 1.195 million, registered in 2011.
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