Hundreds of gathered in the centre of Prague on Saturday in protest against the government’s planned pension reform. The overhaul of the Czech pension system is set to raise the VAT on majority of goods. The protesters also objected to plans to introduce tuition fees at Czech universities. The rally, organized by the opposition group ProAlt, was addressed by the head of the Czech unions’ federation before moving on to a march through city centre. Estimates of the number of participants vary between 200 and 1,000.
Prague’s annual Matějská Fair kicks off at the Výstaviště fairgrounds in Holešovice on Saturday, one week later than usual due to cold weather. Over a hundred attractions will be on offer, from traditional fairground rides like bumper cars and carousels to an exhibition of large prehistoric animals, and numerous attractions brought there from abroad. The fair lasts until April 25..
Plan for the potential renovation of Wenceslas Square were also discussed, including one initiative to tear down the historic Federal Assembly building. Mayor Svoboda said that removing the structure to fully expose the old Produce Exchange building within it was something that could be considered and that has been discussed with the Ministry of Culture, which declared it a protected cultural monument in 2000. The aesthetics of the 1974 modernist building has long been a topic of controversy, between experts who consider it an excellent work of architecture and locals who consider it an eyesore. Mr Svoboda said that specialists would have the final word in any renovation of the square and that he was not yet inclined towards any one particular plan.
A majority of Praguers would welcome a Constitutional Court decision invalidating the results of last autumn’s local elections, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted by the agency SANEP, suggests that 65% of Praguers are opposed to the grand coalition between the Civic and Social Democrats at City Hall, which nonetheless is a drop since December, when 80% were opposed. The Constitutional Court will be reviewing the election on March 29 at the behest of certain small parties, which are complaining that the city’s voting precincts were gerrymandered.
Prague is the sixth richest region in the whole of the European Union and clearly the wealthiest locality in Central and Eastern Europe according to figures released by the EU’s statistics. It said the region’s Gross Domestic Product reached 172 percent of the EU average. The Czech capital is only exceeded in terms of wealth by Hamburg, the Dutch city of Groeningen, Brussels, central London and Luxembourg. The poorest region in the Czech Republic straddles the Karlovy Vary and Ústi regions with an average 62 percent of EU average wealth.
Prague offers the fifth best price/performance ratio among world capitals, according to a poll published by the international hotel reservation server hotel.info. The winner among world capitals is Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The poll was conducted at the beginning of 2011 among hotel guests who had booked accommodation in one of the 210 000 hotels offered at hotel.info. According to a poll comparing Czech cities only, Prague was beaten by Plzen, west Bohemia. They were followed by Jihlava, south Moravia, Marianské Lázně, west Bohemia and Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia.
Czech firms will benefit from the moving of the Galileo Supervisory Authority (GSA) headquarters to Prague, the authority’s Italian head Carlo des Dorides told journalists in the capital on Friday. Czech firms will be able to take part in the development of signal receivers or applications for the Global Navigation Satellite System. The Transport Minister Vít Bárta stressed that the GSA transfer to the Czech Republic could be a major advantage in maintaining competitiveness, calling the space programme, like nanotechnology, promising areas. Plans for relocating some 50 GSA staff from Brussels to Prague should be ready in around three months. The Czech transport minister stressed that he expected the signing of a host agreement at this time. The exact date of the GSA headquarters transfer to Prague has not been specified yet.
Representatives of Prague City Hall have, after four hours of discussions, approved a 52-million budget for the city. The city has had a provisional budget until now. In the coming year, Prague anticipates income of 37.4 billion and expenses of 46.4 billion, with the difference to be paid through income from the state, savings from previous years and unused money from 2010. A debt of 5.8 billion for which the city is issuing bonds will also be repaid. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said that the budget was the best possible compromise. Last year’s budget was 50.3 billion.
It was not that long ago that previous leadership at Prague City Hall assured the public that the massive Blanka tunnel under construction in the capital would be finished on time and within its 26 billion crown budget. So it must have been a rude awakening, for those at City Hall now – including new Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda – to learn nothing could be further from the truth. The 6.3 kilometre Blanka, leading from Holešovice through Hradčany, will cost at least 10 billion crowns more than previously expected. What is more, its completion is now likely
A 34-year-old man was shot dead in a tram in Prague in the early hours of Saturday. The man was shot in the head and died immediately; the shooter escaped and police are searching for him, a police spokeswoman said. The incident took place at the 22 tram line’s terminal station in the neighbourhood of Hostivař shortly after 1 AM. The man got on the tram in city centre at around 0:45; the tram driver only noticed the passenger was dead when the tram reached its final stop. The identity of the victim and the motive of the shooting remain unknown; the police have asked for assistance any witnesses who were traveling on the 22 line after midnight.
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