News This March warmest in at least 50 years
This March was the warmest in at least 50 years, according to the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute. The average temperature was 6.6 degrees Celsius, some 3.9 degrees higher than the mean for the period 1961 to 2014. Temperature records were repeatedly broken around the Czech Republic last month, with 24 degrees Celsius recorded at some weather stations.
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A meeting of the tripartite – government, union and employers – is not likely to reach a consensus on Monday on a raising of the minimum monthly wage, the Czech News Agency reports. According to the service, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has backed an increase of no more than 700 crowns per month for a total of 10,600 crowns, which is also seen as suitable by employers. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs wants the total to be 11,000 and unions 500 crowns more. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has backed an increase to at least 11,000. The monthly minimum wage was last raised at the beginning of 2016 – from the previous 9,200 crowns to the current 9,900.
State spending watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office, has reported auditing mistakes to the tune of 4.9 billion crowns in the books of the Ministry of Interior for 2014. The main factors in the flawed accounting were failures to properly account for the impact of a series of agreements made by the ministry and its estimation of property assets. The ministry said that no cash was missing and that steps have been taken to address the accounting mistakes.
Czech cyclist Roman Kreuziger ended tenth in the Tour de France on Sunday, his fourth top 10 placement. He was just over seven minutes off the winning time of Chris Froome. Kreuziger moved up to 10th place overall from 12th on Saturday after coming sixth in the stage after an aggressive move to break free of the pack. He was helped by fellow team member, Slovak Peter Sagan. Kreuziger’s best ever placing in the tour was fifth in 2013. He had previously been placed three time in the top 10.
Bonus payments to top ministerial staff in the first half of the year rose to total 280 million crowns, according to Czech Radio. That is around 20 million more than in the previous six months. The government has defended the payments saying they are deserved. Most of the bonus payments in ministries total between 20,000 and 30,000 crowns. The Ministry of Transport stands out with bonus payments there averaging around 55,000 crowns over the latest period. Such payments are covered by the civil service law.
The population of lynx in the Šumava forest has fallen to around 65 and is in severe danger according to the latest estimates of an environmental group. Around 15 years ago the population was estimated at around 100. The latest estimate was released by the group Hnuti Duha which for many years has been tracing the evolution of the population and is currently holding an international conference in the Šumava region dealing with the topic. Illegal hunting and trapping and car accidents are believed to be the main causes of the sharp drop in the population.
Police have launched an appeal for help after a newly born baby was found dead at a plastic sorting facility in Prague on Saturday night. The baby had apparently suffered a violent death. It was probably delivered in a container from Prague or Central Bohemia. Police have asked to be contacted if anyone noticed suspicious circumstances such as a woman in late stages of pregnancy who appears to have given birth but has no child.
Czech weather forecasters are warning of severe storms in West and South Bohemia, South Moravia and Vysočina on Sunday afternoon and evening. Winds could reach up to 70 kilometres and hour and heavy rain total up to 30 litres per square metre. The warning applies to the whole of the Czech Republic on Monday and Tuesday with the likelihood of severer downfalls in some areas.
Changes to the Czech civil service law are being prepared in an attempt to streamline recruitment and fill many gaps in ministries and other state bodies. The current procedures are regarded as overly complicated and time consuming. At the moment there are many vacancies in government departments. The Ministry of Justice is one of the worst cases with around 100 vacancies, comprising around 50 lawyers and a dozen IT specialists. Selection procedures often last up to three months or more. The civil service law was brought in after the Czech Republic dragged its heels for years in meeting EU demands that it put in place a professional civil service.
The Ministry of Interior is working on a new set of rules over unpaid police overtime, according to Czech Television. The rules are likely to continue the practice that police can be called on to work for free during exceptional or crisis situations. Police overtime has been a cause of friction in the past with the police winning a Supreme Administrative Court judgement over excessive and free overtime. Police say the situation has since improved generally but for some special units, such as that tasked with protecting state figures and embassies, there has not been much change.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said no Czechs are believed to be among the victims of a shooting spree at a shopping centre in Munich, Germany, on Friday evening. Nine people were killed and the gunman, believed to be a 19-year-old German-Iranian, then turned the gun on himself. Around 21 people were injured. Czech police stepped up police patrols in shopping centres and increased border security after the incident. The motive for the attack is not yet known. The increased Czech border checks were cancelled Saturday.