News Finance Minister Babiš earmarks more state firms for contributions to state budget
Minister of Finance Andrej Babis has extended the list of state companies whose bank account surpluses could be used to help the state budget. Babis told journalists that Czech Post, oil pipeline company MERO, fuel distribution company ČEPRO, and the State Institute for Drug Control could all contribute to the state coffers. He has already said that almost 70 percent state controlled power company ČEZ could pay out its total profits for 2013 in dividends and that he is counting on around 4 billion crowns from the state forestry company. Former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek on Tuesday attacked Babiš for raiding the accounts of state firms saying that funds should be left with them to develop the firms.
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Prague is to ban people from offering guided tours of the city from the area beneath the astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. The prohibition is set to come into effect from November 5. The guided tour sellers will be allowed to ply their trade at other spots elsewhere on the historic Old Town Square, which attracts millions of tourists every year. The Prague authorities also want to introduce exams for would-be guides and to be allowed to re-examine those who currently hold licenses to give tours.
World number three Petra Kvitová lost her opening match at the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore on Tuesday. The Czech lost 2-6 3-6 to Agniszka Radwanska of Poland after making numerous unforced errors in the late night White Group encounter. Kvitová, who is current Wimbledon champion, has only beaten another top 10 player once in her last six attempts. The other players in the White Group in Singapore are Maria Sharapova of Russia and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.
The Civic Democrats failed to have a discussion of Defence Minister Martin Stropnický’s involvement in a TV series included on the agenda of the Czech lower house on Tuesday. The party’s Jana Černochová said that the character played by Mr. Stropnický – who is an actor – in a TV crime show presented soldiers as drug dealers and murderers, thus harming the Czech Army’s image. For his part the TOP 09 minister said TV broadcast fiction, not reality. The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáček, had earlier described the latest episode of the show Kriminálka Anděl as spitting in the face of the country’s armed forces.
Car production in the Czech Republic looks set to reach a record 1.2 million in 2014 the president of the country’s Automotive Industry Association, Martin Jahn, said at a regional gathering of carmakers on Tuesday. That would represent year on year growth of over 6 percent and would be higher than the growth rate for Europe as a whole. Parts makers in the Czech Republic should record an even bigger year-on-year increase in output, said Mr. Jahn. The current record for car production is 1.195 million, registered in 2011.
Controls for the disease Ebola began at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Tuesday morning. Arriving passengers who have been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone in the previous 42 days have to have their temperature taken and undergo an interview at an anti-epidemic centre installed at the airport. If any indications of Ebola are detected, they will be taken to an infections clinic at the capital’s Na Bulovka hospital.
The NHL club Buffalo Sabres will retire the no. 39 jersey worn by Czech goaltender Dominik Hašek on January 13, the night the club play the Detroit Red Wings, with whom Hašek won his two Stanley Cup championships. The goalie spent nine seasons with Buffalo before being traded to Detroit in 2001. Hašek won the Vezina trophy as the league’s best goaltender six times and the Hart Trophy as most valuable player twice while at Buffalo. He is being inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame on November 17 and will be the first Czech to receive the honour.
Thirty percent of children’s playgrounds and sports grounds tested every year by the Czech Trade Inspectorate are faulty in some way, the head of the Czech Consumer Association, Libor Dupal, said at a news conference on Tuesday. Mr. Dupal said the actual percentage of dangerous playgrounds could be higher, adding that the Trade Inspectorate had limited powers when it came to such checks. The consumers group presented a guidebook outlining how operators could fulfill European norms with regard to playground and sports ground safety.
A rare northern white rhinoceros owned by the zoo in Dvůr Králové, east Bohemia, has died of old age at a sanctuary in Kenya. A representative of the zoo said on Tuesday that there were no plans to end a breeding programme involving three other rhinos that it runs at the Ol Pejeta bush camp. The zoo launched the breeding project five years ago as part of efforts to preserve the subspecies. The rhino male that died on Friday at the age of 34 was one of only seven known to exist in the world.
President Miloš Zeman has again not invited university rectors with whom he has had disputes in the past to a ceremony on October 28 at which state honours will be presented. Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday that once again neither Mikuláš Bek of Brno’s Masaryk University nor Libor Grubhoffer from the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice had received the traditional invitation. Mr. Bek refused to allow Mr. Zeman to appear before students ahead of general elections, while Mr. Grubhoffer declined to attend a conferral ceremony after the president refused to name a professor, saying he had carried an inappropriate sign during a gay pride parade. Last year a number of university heads stayed away from the October 28 ceremony at Prague Castle in solidarity with the two.
Police pyrotechnics experts on Monday were able to guide a remote-control device to the epicenter of a munitions depot in Vrbětice, which was destroyed by an explosion last Thursday. Using a thermal camera, they learned that there are still smoldering fires in the area burning at up to 140 degrees Celsius. They also learned that no dangerous substances were being emitted into the air at the site.