Czech daily news roundup: Thursday, March 31, 2022

Government raises benefits due to inflation, National Bank to decide on interest rate rise, Castle chief accused of football corruption. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 31.03.2022 09:31:00 (updated on 31.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

LGBT+ Hungarian community protests outside embassy in Prague

Protests took place in front of the Hungarian Embassy in Prague last night, against the so-called '"LGBT+ referendum" organized by Viktor Orbán's Fidesz government. The referendum will take place on the same day as the Hungarian election. LGBT+ rights campaigners called for the referendum to be called off and expressed support for those discriminated against within new laws passed by the Hungarian government. The Hungarian election and referendum will take place this Sunday.

Welfare Government raises benefits due to inflation

The Czech government has increased living and subsistence minimum thresholds to help households meet soaring prices for everyday goods and services. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs said the thresholds would increase by 10 percent, allowing more people to qualify for state aid and increasing the amounts paid in welfare benefits.

The increase will help around 350,000 people and is likely to cost the state up to CZK 2 billion this year. The last time the living and subsistence minimums were updated was in April 2020, shortly after the start of the Covid pandemic. The living minimum is currently CZK 3,860 for a single adult, while for adults in a family it is CZK 3,550; the subsistence minimum is CZK 2,490.

Economy National Bank to decide on interest rate rise

The bank board of the Czech National Bank will decided today on raising interest rates further to combat rising inflation. Economists predict the base interest rate to increase by another 0.5 percent to a total of 5 percent. The last time the base rate was so high was in 2001.

However, economists aren’t ruling out an even higher increase of 0.75 percent. The bank is alarmed by inflation, which hit 11.1 percent in February before the negative effects of the war in Ukraine are taken into account. The National Bank rapidly increased interest rates in recent months to combat this pandemic-induced inflation.

Corruption Castle chief accused of football corruption

The ethical commission of the Czech Football Association has launched proceedings against the head of the Czech presidential office Vratislav Mynář, over allegedly violating fairness of competition. Mynář is accused of trying to influence football association officials to ensure supportive referees were appointed to matches involving first division team Slovácko.

The man whom Mynář asked to help with the appointment of referees for Slovácko matches, Roman Berbr, is facing criminal prosecution over alleged corruption and attempts to influence the results of second and third-division matches. Mynář, who was also the subject of recent controversy over his role during the illness of President Zeman last autumn, is a football association member as a representative of a sixth-division club.

Tech Czechs win innovation award in UAE

A Czech-made technology for producing water from the air using solar energy has won the UAE Innovates Award for the best project at Expo 2020 in Dubai. The technology is named the Solar Air Water Earth Resource (S.A.W.E.R.) system. The award was presented by the Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation of the United Arab Emirates.

The award presentation is one of the final acts of the world exhibition, which finishes today. The S.A.W.E.R. system was developed by a team from the Czech Technical University and is capable of autonomous water collection from the air. The system was used to gather around 100 liters of water per day for the watering of a garden that featured in the Czech Expo pavilion.

Politics Education Minister breaking law with company stake

Czech Education Minister and STAN party Deputy Chairman Petr Gazdík is in breach of conflict of interest laws because he owns a 50 percent stake in a company. Ministers are obliged by law to suspend all business activities in the 30 days after taking office.

Gazdík has a 50 percent stake in the Jocheček company based in Zlín, southeast Moravia. Gazdík claimed to have completely forgotten about his stake in the company and promised to relinquish his share as soon as possible. The company deals with property management and investments; it was founded by Gazdík in 2019. Gazdík claims his role is purely formal.

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