News New book titles increase in 2013 but sector still struggling with higher VAT rate
Almost 17,900 new book titles were published in the Czech Republic in 2013, an increase of around 600 on the previous year, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. The figures coincide with the opening of the Czech Republic’s flagship annual book fair, Book World, in Prague on Thursday. New titles peaked in the Czech Republic in 2011 with almost 19,000 being published. Since then the sector has been hit by the imposition of a higher rate of Value Added Tax rate on books and increased costs. The current centre-left coalition government has promised to put books back into a lower VAT band.
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The Czech government will next week discuss whether the country should bid to host a United Nations Habitat III conference on housing and sustainable development planned for 2016. The Czech Ministry of Regional Development has put forward a proposal to host the conference, which is held once every two decades. Around 20,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference, including the secretary general of the UN. Prague’s Congress Centrum would be the main venue in any Czech bid. A decision on what city will host the event will be made by the end of this year.
The Prague Castle Administration is planning renovation work priced at CZK 260 million, Lidové Noviny reported on Saturday. The Prague Castle Administration has engaged contractors to renovate the riding school at Pohořelec, the Castle’s Ludwig Wing and a greenhouse for palm trees at the presidential summer residence at Lány near Prague, among other sites, the newspaper said. The work is being to be carried out this year and in 2015, the president’s spokesman said.
Czech women’s tennis number one Petra Kvitová has reached the final at the Connecticut Open in New Haven for the third time in a row. The two-time Wimbledon winner will face Slovakia’s Magdaléna Rybáriková for the title after dispatching Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-3 6-1 on Saturday. The competition is regarded as a warm-up for the US Open, which begins on Monday and in which Kvitová has never got past the fourth round.
The Czech poet and translator Bohumila Grögerová has died at the age of 93. Her collection Rukopis (Manuscript) picked up the best poetry book and best book prizes at the Magnesia Litera awards in 2009, when she also received a lifetime achievement award from the Czech PEN Club. Grögerová translated over 180 titles in tandem with her life partner Josef Hiršal, who was also a poet and died in 2003.
The governor of South Moravia Michal Hašek is proposing that schools, hospitals and social service institutions in the region buy exclusively Czech food products in order to support local farmers who may be hit by the Russian sanctions. The proposal has been eagerly welcomed by the President of the South-Moravian Agrarian Chamber Václav Hlaváček who said the chamber had been pushing the idea for some time without marked success. Hlaváček said the present political situation might paradoxically help Czech farmers and producers establish a stronger footing on the home market.
People have just one more week in which to exchange any 20 and 50 crown banknotes still in their possession. The banknotes were taken out of circulation several years ago but according to the central bank people still have over a quarter of a billion crowns of them in their possession. They can be exchanged at Central Bank outlets until next Friday.
The coach of the Czech national soccer team Pavel Vrba is the latest Czech “celebrity” to join the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of ALS Research, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday. Vrba had two players douse him with a bucket of ice cold water and nominated Education Minister Marcel Chladek.
The 21st international bagpipe festival opened in the south Bohemian town of Strakonice on Friday with a procession of the ensembles taking part winding its way through the city centre. Over 1200 musicians from 17 countries the world over are taking part in the festival this year. In the course of the next three days soloists and over 40 ensembles will be performing at various cultural venues around the city, including the courtyard of Strakonice Castle. The bagpipe festival which first took place in 1967 is one of the cultural highlights of the year and annually attracts thousands of visitors.
Hundreds of people living in Prague’s Dejvice district have been at risk from E.coli bacteria which was found to be present in tap water in the area following water-pipe maintenance. The authorities reportedly pasted warnings on all blocks of flats and houses in the district, but it is not clear if the warning reached all inhabitants at risk. A number of people in the area are reportedly suffering from headaches, nausea and indigestion. Prague 6 city hall has criticized the city’s waterworks for failing to report the problem so that it could warn its citizens properly. According to latest reports only one block of flats remains at risk, all other tests on tap water have proved negative.
Financial analysts dismiss President Zeman’s claim that the Central Bank may have protected its own interests through forex interventions
Financial analysts have dismissed as nonsensical President Zeman’s claim
that the Czech National Bank may have devaluated the Czech crown with the
intention to delay the country’s entry to the Eurozone. President Zeman
said at a press briefing in Prague on Thursday evening that the bank may
have taken this step because after the adoption of the euro the Czech
central bank would automatically cede a significant part of its powers to
the European Central Bank. The bank board members have refused to comment,
but financial analysts have dismissed the notion pointing out that the
board members term in office would expire before the country could join the
The Czech National Bank launched forex interventions in November of last year citing the need to avert the threat of deflation. It plans to continue the interventions until 2016. The move has come under fire from a number of economists and has repeatedly been criticized by the president.