News Audit at Social Democrat ministries finds suspicious deals worth two billion
An audit at government ministries run by the Social Democrats has discovered suspicious deals worth around two billion crowns, Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka told a news conference on Friday. Around half of the potentially wasted funds is related to several problematic IT deals of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. Mr Sobotka said the situation in the state administration was worse than expected, and blamed the problems on past Czech governments. The prime minister and his team has reviewed four ministries controlled by the Social Democrats; Mr Sobotka said that audits would continue. A review of six ministries controlled by the ANO party earlier this year found suspicious deals worth 16 billion crowns.
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The Czech Republic has sent over CZK 3.5 million worth of aid to Liberia, which is one of the West African countries affected by the Ebola crisis. The aid takes the form of protective clothing, disinfectant gel and other supplies; it is being delivered by a Dutch ship and will be distributed by Save the Children International. The government approved the move at the start of October.
Life expectancy in the Czech Republic has risen markedly since the fall of communism 25 years ago, the Czech News Agency reported. Life expectancy for men has increased from 68 to 75 years and for women from 75 to 81 years. Seniors make up over 17 percent of the population, compared to just below 13 percent in 1989, while the old age pensions are now 10 percent higher in real terms. Life expectancy has also risen in Slovakia, but less than in the Czech part of the former federal state, the Czech News Agency said.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has qualified for the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals for the fifth time in a row. Berdych, who is 29, assured himself of one of the eight places available after overcoming Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-7 6-4 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of an indoor tournament in Paris. The World Tour Finals get underway in London on November 9.
A newly opened office and shopping complex above Národní třída metro station in Prague has been fitted with artworks by the well-known Czech sculptors David Černý and Maxim Velčovský. A small “square” by the Quadrio building is now adorned by a 39-tonne moving statue of Franz Kafka produced by Černý at a cost of CZK 30 million. Velčovský has created a large glass piece for the foyer of the complex which occupies a previously open space in the downtown area.
Former Czech president Václav Klaus has described his late predecessor and political rival Václav Havel as having the mentality of a “reform communist”. In an interview carried in Mladá fronta Dnes, Mr. Klaus said Mr. Havel had hated political parties and been fundamentally opposed to the free market. He said his then party the Civic Democrats’ support for Mr. Havel in repeated presidential elections had been a “necessary evil”. Saturday’s interview comes less than three weeks before the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution in which Václav Havel, who died in 2011, led Czechoslovakia to democracy after over four decades of communist rule.
The beautiful baroque gardens of Černín Palace, home to the Czech Foreign Ministry, will now be open to visitors on a daily basis. At the opening ceremony on Wednesday Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, said he wanted the beautiful terraced gardens to serve as an oasis of calm in the bustle of the city and a meeting place for both locals and tourists. The Foreign Ministry also aims to organize more social events on the premises. The gardens will be open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Israel does not fear that Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian state will trigger a snowball effect in Europe, the Israeli ambassador to Prague, Gary Koren told journalists. Ambassador Koren said that Sweden’s step would not help, but rather hinder the Middle East peace process. According to the ambassador the only way to an agreement is through direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinina representatives.The Czech Republic has not recognized the Palestinian state, and according to Foreign Minister Zaorálek, does not plan to do so.
Adriana Krnáčová of the ANO party is to become the new mayor of Prague, under a coalition agreement sealed on Friday. ANO won the local elections in Prague and has reached a deal with the Social Democrats and the three-way grouping of the Green Party, the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents who ran on a joint ticket. The winning ANO will hold the city’s finances, security, health and housing. The Social Democrats should get transport, social policy and European funds while the three-way grouping should take the environment, culture and infrastructure.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday met for talks with the visiting Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic. The two officials discussed bilateral ties and economic cooperation, with the Czech side expressing interest in partaking in the planned reconstruction of Serbia’s infrastructure, putting down rail tracks and building highways. The two heads of government discussed the possibility of holding a Czech-Serbian business forum to boost cooperation and trade. Prime Minister Sobotka is expected to visit Serbia in mid-December.
A third of Czech travel agencies failed to pass an inspection by the Czech Trade Inspection Office which handed out fines amounting to 300,000 crowns, the ctk news agency reports. According to the office inspectors found fault with 25 out of 74 agencies audited. The failings most often had to do with not providing objective information about the conditions in which holiday makers would be living and a laggardness in dealing with complaints.