News Press: Finance minister wants ČEZ to pay last year’s entire profit to shareholders

24-03-2014 10:01 | Jan Richter

Finance Minister Andrej Babiš wants Czech state-controlled owned energy firm ČEZ to pay all of last year’s profit to its shareholders, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. ČEZ posted a net profit of 35.2 billion crowns in 2013. The Czech state, which owns a near 70-percent stake in the firm, would receive around 25 billion crowns, some 10 billion more than the year before. In recent years, ČEZ paid out between 40 and 45 percent of its profits in dividends to shareholders. Mr. Babiš’ plan is to be discussed by coalition parties; a spokesman for the company said the decision was up to shareholders.

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National soccer team coach accepts Ice Bucket Challenge

22-08-2014 15:14 | Daniela Lazarová

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 his with a bucket of ice cold water and nominated Education Minister Marcel Chladek. 

Strakonice bagpipe festival underway

22-08-2014 15:10 | Daniela Lazarová

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. 

Prague’s Dejvice district had E.coli bacteria in tap water

22-08-2014 12:59 | Daniela Lazarová

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

22-08-2014 12:42 updated | Daniela Lazarová

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 euro anyway.

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. 

Amnesty authorship dispute heading for court

22-08-2014 11:46 | Daniela Lazarová

Lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf and the Office of the President have failed to reach an out-of-court settlement on a drawn-out dispute over the authorship of ex-president Václav Klaus’ controversial 2013 amnesty, the ctk news agency reports. Pavel Hasenkopf, who filed a law suit against the president’s office for claiming that he was one of the authors of the amnesty, has decided to push ahead with a court battle saying that the claim had badly damaged his reputation. The amnesty which Vaclav Klaus declared at the end of his second term in office saw the release of over 111,000 prisoners and halted the prosecution of a number of high-profile cases of large-scale corruption and financial fraud. 

Draft civil service law reworked

22-08-2014 11:33 | Daniela Lazarová

The governing coalition has reworked the draft of a new civil service law reflecting a recent compromise agreement reached with the opposition parties. The new proposal does not include the establishment of a public service directorate and an independent public service top official who would govern public administration and be immune from political interference. Under the new proposal, the civil service would fall under the interior ministry, and be overseen by a deputy minister in charge of public administration. The compromise agreement reached with the opposition caused a rift within the governing Social Democratic Party with the Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier saying the new arrangement would fail to depoliticize the civil service as planned. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has defended the compromise on the grounds that the country urgently needs a new civil service law. The new proposal will now be put to the opposition parties. 

Human trafficking gang sentenced for forcing Ukrainian women into prostitution

22-08-2014 11:05 | Daniela Lazarová

A court in Brno has sentenced the ring-leaders of a gang which forced Ukrainian women into prostitution to seven years in prison. The gang brought over a dozen girls to the Czech Republic, arranging their visas and promising them work as waitresses, before taking away their passports and forcing them into prostitution at a nightclub outside the city. The owner of the nightclub received a five year sentence. 

Former nurse charged with murder on suspicion of having performed euthsnasia

22-08-2014 10:16 | Daniela Lazarová

A former nurse who worked at a hospital in Rumburk has been charged with murder on suspicion that she may have performed euthanasia on a number of patients. The nurse allegedly claimed she was fulfilling terminally ill patients’ wishes by giving them higher amounts of drugs in order to speed up their demise. Euthanasia is illegal under Czech law. 

Charity run for soldiers killed in Afghanistan

21-08-2014 17:55 | Daniela Lazarová

A charity run to raise money for the families of the five Czech soldiers killed in Afghanistan at the beginning of June will take place on Saturday in the town of Chrudim, the site of the military base where four of them trained. The 3-kilometre run, in which many of their fellow servicemen will take part, is to start from the Cloister Gardens on Ressel Square at 10 pm and will end outside the barracks of the 43rd Airborne Mechanised Battalion in Chrudim. It is the last of a series of charity events which raised 4.5 million crowns for the soldiers’ families. 

Government helping Czech exporters find new markets outside of Russia

21-08-2014 17:35 | Daniela Lazarová

Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Trade Minister Jan Mládek on Thursday met with the country’s business leaders to discuss the impact of the sanctions against Russia and consider alternative outlets for Czech export products. Minister Mládek said that while seen on a macroeconomic scale the potential losses were not significant firms entirely dependent on the Russian market could have serious problems. According to the minister Czech exporters might find new opportunities in Belorussia, Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan. The Czech foreign and trade ministries have been cooperating to help minimize the impact of the sanctions on the export-dependent Czech economy. 

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