News Death toll on Czech roads rises in first quarter after ‘black’ March
The Czech public finance deficit fell in 2013 to 1.44 percent of Gross Domestic Product from 4.2 percent in 2012, the Czech Statistics Office announced on Tuesday. That performance would put the country in line to join the euro zone on the public deficit criterion for the first time since 2008. The government is counting on a public deficit below 3.0 percent this year as well. In separate figures, the office revised downwards its previous growth figure for the last quarter of 2013 to 1.2 percent year on year and 1.8 percent quarter on quarter. The Czech economy shrunk by 0.9 percent over the whole year.
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The Brno city council has issued a blanket ban on gaming machines in the city as of next year. Gambling will be restricted to licensed casinos and only allowed in 8 of the city’s 29 districts. The ban was supported by 37 out of 55 councilors. Although several small towns have enforced similar bans, Brno is the only big city to have made the move.
The Czech Republic will get another chance to draw EU funds it had been allocated in the 2007 – 2013 period, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told Czech journalists at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday night. At the summit, the Czech Republic and Slovakia managed to push through a plan that the European Commission and member states should try to secure a maximum use of the funds that failed to get spent. The prime minister said Czech ministries would launch talks with the Commission on the issue without delay. The Czech Republic has failed to use approximately 20 billion crowns worth of EU money this year.
The Czech antitrust office UOHS has permitted petrochemical group Unipetrol to become an exclusive owner of the oil refining company Česka rafinerská as the merger will not cause a fundamental breach of competition on markets, UOHS chairman Petr Rafaj told the ctk news agency on Friday. The share of the merging companies will not exceed 15 percent on the market for ex-refinery supplies of petrol, diesel oil, LPG, heating fuel and aviation fuel.
Doctors at the Prague Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine have has performed a simultaneous stomach, pancreas, liver and small intestine transplant on a patient in an operation that is unique in Europe.The small intestine transplant was the first ever performed in the Czech Republic. The surgery took ten hours and the patient is in stable condition.
Around 300 people gathered outside the Office of the Government on Thursday, calling for the Czech Republic to accept Syrian children and their families fleeing the civil war in their country. A similar demonstration was also held in Brno. Western countries have pledged to accept 100,000 refugees from war-stricken Syria, but the Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec recently said the Czech Republic was not ready for an influx of thousands of refugees due to security and technical reasons and would not accept any binding EU quota.
Czech biathlete Gabriela Soukalová won a 7.5 kilometre World Cup sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia, on Thursday. The 25-year-old athlete did not miss a single target and finished 18 seconds ahead of Italy’s Dorothea Wierer. It was the first win for Gabriela Soukalová this season and eighth World Cup gold in her career.
Mayors of municipalities in the close vicinity of the Temelín nuclear power plant have called on the Czech government to carry on with the plant’s expansion. In an open letter addressed to the government, the mayors argue that significant funds have already been spent in anticipation of the project. Plans to expand the Temelín plant were put on hold in April after the Czech government refused to provide state guarantees for the price of electricity generated by the new units. The government is set to decide on the future of the project by the end of the year.
A Czech company has won a public tender for growing medical cannabis, the State Institute for Drug Control, announced on Thursday. Sixteen Czech firms have placed their bids for a license to grow and sell cannabis to pharmacies. The name of the winner has not been disclosed yet due to administrative procedures. The law on medical marihuana opening way for patients suffering from cancer and neurological diseases to use the drug under medical supervision came into force in February last year. Czech pharmacies started to sell the drug, which is now legally imported from the Netherlands, in mid-November.
The Senate on Thursday approved a three-percent hike in salaries for lawmakers. Under the new legislation, which was passed by the Senate without debate, the basic monthly salary of an MP will increase next year by 17,500 crowns, to 57,600 crowns. President Miloš Zeman said on Wednesday that he was ready to sign the legislation into law.
Minister of Education Marcel Chládek appointed 64 new professors on Thursday. The ceremony at Prague’s Karolinum was not attended by President Miloš Zeman, who, according to his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, was getting ready for the upcoming meeting with the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann. The president in the past expressed his desire to leave the tasks of appointing new professors to the education minister or Speaker of the Senate, but the lower house rejected an amendment to the law which was drawn up in line with his request.