News Czech foreign debt decreases slightly in Q1
Czech foreign debt decreased by over 64 billion to 2.15 trillion crowns in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Czech National Bank on Friday. Year on year, however, the debt rose by some 151 billion and now amounts to 54.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The quarterly decrease is due to Czech banks’ repaying of some of their foreign debt in the final quarter of last year, the central bank said. Foreign debt of the private sector also decreased but the public sector’s exposure, which represents some 30 percent of the debt, rose due to the government’s bonds sold to foreign investors.
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The traditional pub Baráčnická rychta in Prague’s Malá Strana district is set for closure at the end of June, E15 reported. The old society of baráčníks (cottage owners) to which the pub belongs failed to reach agreement on extending the contract of the current operator and instead made a deal to lease it to an upmarket Italian-owned hotel located next door, the newspaper said. A hall joined to the pub is a well-known venue for social events and concerts.
Miners at the Darkov mine in North Moravia held an underground protest on Tuesday when they refused to come to the surface following their night shift. The men said they were demanding to know the plans of mine owners OKD, which is threatened with insolvency. The miners emerged after an underground meeting with an OKD executive that the company described as a “working briefing”. The firm has around 10,000 workers in a region with relatively high unemployment.
The police have requested that the Chamber of Deputies lift the immunity of MP Štěpán Stupčuk so they can question him. The Czech News Agency reported that the investigation likely centred on a traffic accident in February involving the Social Democrat politician. Mr. Stupčuk confirmed to the newspaper Právo that he was facing charges of endangerment under the influence. The TV station Nova reported that the police had found him alone at the scene of an accident but that he had denied being the driver and refused to take a test for alcohol.
Health sector workers in the Czech Republic are to receive a pay rise of 10 percent from January next year. The news was announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka following a meeting between representatives of the government, the regions, the Czech Medical Chamber and health workers’ trade unions. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said that an extra CZK 9 billion would be raised from employees’ health insurance in 2017, while his ministry would provide another CZK 2 billion toward salaries in the sector.
Cooperation between the Czech Republic and Iran in nuclear energy is an important opportunity for Czech-Iranian bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi agreed at their meeting on Monday. Mr Zaorálek told reporters that Czechs can offer expert know-how to Tehran. Mr Salehi, who visited the Nuclear Research Institute in Řež near Prague before his meeting with Mr Zaorálek, also praised the work of Czech nuclear researchers. He referred to the agreement between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, from last July, in which Tehran pledged to limit its nuclear activities and make them more transparent in exchange for the of lifting of U.S. and EU sanctions. As a result of the agreement, relations between the Czech Republic and Iran have become dynamic, Mr Zaorálek said.
Chomutov hockey forward Roman Červenka received three awards at a gala event on Monday evening, including best player of the regular season in the Tipsort Extraliga. Most of the awards, however, went to Liberec, who won this year’s playoffs; the team’s Radim Šimek clinched the award for MVP in the postseason.
Companies in the Czech Republic named after their owners more easily nurture customer trust, which translates into increased profit, a study by the analytical firm Bisnode suggests. The study examined limited private companies with majority owners and other firms. It suggests that profitability among companies named after the owner was 0.5 percent higher than those with neutral names. Eleven percent of company founders 60 or older name their firm after themselves; while those under the age of 30 who do so are just five percent. Consumers seemed more likely to trust a company where the CEO was unafraid to put his or her name up front, standing fully behind their product, the analysis suggests.
A police team was called to the scene of a shooting in Sudomeřice on Monday, closing off a nearby street as well as part of the village, and ordering a local school not to allow anyone to go outside. A 60-year-old suspect is believed to have fired gunshots into the street; no one was hurt in the incident. Police apprehended the man as he slept; children were then allowed to go home from the school with their parents. It is not yet known whether the suspected shooter was under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Five suspects, described as leftist extremists, have been charged by the state prosecutor for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on a transport train carrying military material, Czech Radio reported on Monday. Of the five, three reportedly began planning the attack, which was never carried out, in 2014. The would-be perpetrators planned to firebomb the train along a Prague railway route; the additional two suspects met in an apartment where the conspiracy was discussed and failed to report the plans to the police. The five, as well as a sixth individual who faces weapons charges, were apprehended in a police raid last April. If found guilty, the three primary suspects face up between 12 and 20 years in jail and the other two, up to three years behind bars.
The government on Monday approved an action plan for the agriculture sector up until the year 2030. According to Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka, planned changes include lowering by tens of thousands of hectares rapeseed production, increasing the breeding of livestock, significantly boosting vegetable growth and markedly increasing the protection of arable land from soil erosion. According to available information, fruit orchards should increase from the current 14,500 hectares to 23,000 by 2030. By 2030, up to 60 percent of arable land should be protected from erosion compared to 11 percent now.