News Bulgaria moves to revoke Czech power distributors’ licences

19-03-2014 17:11 | Jan Richter

The authorities in Bulgaria on Wednesday started a process to revoke operating licences of three foreign power distributors including the Czech firms ČEZ and Energo Pro. The move by the Bulgarian energy regulator comes after the companies, along with Austria’s EVN, failed to settle an alleged debt of over 226 million US dollars to the state power produced NEK, a debt contested by the firms. The regulator gave the foreign-owned distributors two weeks to submit comments on the decision before it addresses the issue again on April 7, the news agency ČTK reported quoting Bulgaria’s news site sofiaglobe.com.

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Search for nuclear waste storage site continues

28-07-2016 13:29 | Daniela Lazarová

Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek is to meet with the mayors of seven localities which are being considered for a potential nuclear waste storage site. The ministry’s plans to conduct geological tests at these localities have raised a storm of opposition, leading the minister to narrow down the choice to two localities and then expand it back to the original seven after being criticized for the way in which the ministry was conducting the selection process. Talks now appear to have gone back to square one. Minister Mládek said earlier the ministry would not enforce the decision and the nuclear waste site would only be built with consent from nearby localities. The nuclear waste storage site should be built by 2065. 

Forever 21 to pen its first store in Prague

28-07-2016 11:55 | Daniela Lazarová

Forever 21, the American chain of fast fashion retailers, is to open its first store in the Czech Republic this autumn. The chain is expanding to nine more European countries including Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Portugal. Its first store in the Czech Republic should open at the Černy Most shopping centre in Prague. 

Czech investments in Turkey at risk

28-07-2016 11:46 | Daniela Lazarová

The situation in Turkey in the wake of the failed coup is putting at risk Czech investments in the country, the daily Hospodářské Noviny wrote on Thursday. Among those detained are the top managers of Naksan Holding a company for which the Czech company Vítkovice Machinery Group is building an electric power plant. The Czech Export Bank provided a 12 billion crown investment loan for the project, one of its biggest investments in recent years. It is now unclear if the project will get finished. According to Hospodářské Noviny there are dozens of other projects involving Czech companies that have been put on hold for which the Czech state has loaned close to 25 billion crowns. The Czech Foreign Ministry is reported to have entered into negotiations with the Turkish side. 

Parliamentary committee to hear two former elite police officers

28-07-2016 11:32 | Daniela Lazarová

A Parliamentary committee set up to investigate a planned reorganization of the police force is to hear evidence form two elite police chiefs on Thursday, the former head of the squad for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta and former high placed criminal investigator Jiří Komárek. Mr. Šlachta originally asked to be heard by Parliament’s Security Committee saying he had evidence of links between the police and the criminal underworld. He resigned from office over the planned reform which he believes is being undertaken to bring his team of investigators under greater control and undermine their independence. 

State loan offered to OKD to continue operations

28-07-2016 08:31 | Chris Johnstone

A loan of 700 million crowns from the state will be offered to struggling hard coal mining company OKD. The amount and terms of the loan to ensure mining operations can continue while the future of the company is resolved has been fought over during recent weeks by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Trade. The mining company, which itself launched insolvency proceedings, has said that 1.0 billion crowns would be needed. OKD had warned that the state could be faced with massive costs if mining operations were halted. 

Teachers wages to rise from November

28-07-2016 08:30 | Chris Johnstone

Wages for teachers will be hiked from September by around eight percent compared with their current levels. The move should mean increases in monthly gross wages of around 2,000 to 2,400 crowns. The government had given priority to raising teachers’ wages, they are among the worst paid graduates in the country, but the remaining question was whether Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš would agree to the early increases at an estimated cost of around 2.24 billion crowns. The Cabinet Wednesday also agreed to a 5.0 percent wage rise for state employees to take effect from the start of November. 

Hollande cancels Prague visit after killing of priest

27-07-2016 18:46 updated | Ian Willoughby

The French president, Francois Hollande, has cancelled a planned visit to Prague on Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s brutal killing of a priest in a church near Rouen in an attack claimed by Islamic State. Mr. Hollande had been due to visit the Czech capital last week but cancelled that trip after a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day that left 84 dead. The French leader will speak to Czech President Miloš Zeman by telephone on Wednesday, the latter’s spokesperson said. Prime Minister Sobotka later said that in a telephone call Hollande stressed that the EU's main mission should be to secure the security of its citizens, 

Academics call for cancellation of Invalidovna auction

27-07-2016 17:04 | Chris Johnstone

Academics from universities in Prague, Olomouc, and Brno have signed an open letter to prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka calling for him to intervene and cancel the planned auction of the historic Invalidovna complex in the capital. The auction of the Baroque building is set to take place on August 8 with a state property body setting a minimum price of 637.7 million crowns. The academics warn that previous experience in Prague of protected historic buildings being sold and redeveloped has not been encouraging. The building was constructed from 1731 to 1737 to care for war veterans. 

South Moravia struck by Hepatitis A epidemic

27-07-2016 15:45 | Chris Johnstone

Brno and the surrounding South Moravian region is experiencing its biggest epidemic of Hepatitis A for the last 15 years. Since the start of the year, 107 cases have been reported according to the chief regional hygiene officer. For the whole of 2015 there were only 27 cases. Hepatitis A is an acute infection of the liver usually caused by poor hygiene. 

Czech border checks along German border to be tightened

27-07-2016 13:26 | Chris Johnstone

Checks at the border between the Czech Republic and Germany will be stepped up, minister of interior Milan Chovanec has announced. The minister said the reason for the move was the fear that unsuccessful asylum applicants in Germany might seek to move to neighbouring countries rather than be sent back to their countries of origin. The Czech minister highlighted recent comments from some German politicians that hundreds of failed applicants will be returned. He added that Czech police already had pinpointed areas where they could try and cross the border illegally. 

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