Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 18, 2021

President promised two government-forming attempts to ANO, incoming cabinet wants reduced budget deficit, half of Czechs support SPOLU-led government. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 18.10.2021 09:49:00 (updated on 18.10.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Babiš: President Zeman promised me two attempts to form a government

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that he was promised two attempts to form a government by Czech President Miloš Zeman at their meeting after the election, just before Zeman was hospitalized. Babiš will not, however, use the opportunities granted to him by the President so that the new government planned by the two opposition alliances can be formed by Christmas.

Babiš said he originally planned to tell his decision to Zeman in person, but the latter’s hospitalization prevented him from doing so. Zeman needs peace during his medical treatment, said Babiš, in a veiled criticism of media speculation and demands for information about the President’s health during his stay in intensive care at Prague’s Central Military Hospital.

New government wants reduced budget deficit

The next Czech government will draft a new state budget for 2022 with a deficit below CZK 300 billion, a significant reduction compared to the CZK 376.6 billion currently proposed by the outgoing cabinet. SPOLU coalition leader Petr Fiala announced the parties’ intention to cut the deficit in a television interview. None of the parties to be involved in the new government will approve the budget proposed by the outgoing ANO and Social Democrat (ČSSD) cabinet.

Fiala said that to support the current budget proposal would only exacerbate problems with inflation and price increases. Fiala said he wants to save money from state operation costs, asking each minister to secure a 6 percent reduction in their ministry’s operation overheads. Fiala said his government will not raise taxes because the deficit can be fixed even without this measure.

Half of Czechs see opposition coalition as ideal

Almost half of Czechs think the best outcome of the current post-election uncertainty would be the formation of a new cabinet by the SPOLU coalition and the Pirates+STAN coalition, with a joint majority of 108 candidates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. The preference for this new government coalition was revealed in a public opinion poll by the Kantar agency.

46 percent of respondents expressed preference for the SPOLU and Pirates+STAN cabinet. Almost one quarter of the population think ANO party leader Andrej Babiš should form a minority government, either alone (9 percent) or in partnership with Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party (15 percent). 

ČEZ to increase energy prices next year

ČEZ CEO Daniel Beneš has said that the company will significantly increase the price of electricity and gas from January, by around a third for electricity, and by half to two-thirds for gas. The increases will affect customers without a price already fixed for next year. Specifics of the changes will be announced on November 1, to take effect from the first of January.

The price hike comes as the wholesale price of energy in Europe rises to record levels. According to Beneš, this increase is being driven by higher gas prices, the effects of financial incentives to cut carbon emissions, and other market forces. ČEZ’s price hike follows the bankruptcy of Bohemia Energy announced last week.

High temperatures coming this week

This coming week will see above-average temperatures in the Czech Republic. Until colder weather comes on Thursday, average daily highs will be around 16 degrees, or 5 degrees more than average for the time of year.

Forecasts from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute suggest that despite some cloudy and overcast spells, temperatures will be unseasonably high. The warmest day will be Wednesday, when the average high will be between 17 and 21 degrees, although heavy showers will arrive in parts of the country in the evening.

Chip shortage will lead to significantly reduced car production

Czech car makers will produce 250,000 fewer vehicles than expected this year due to a serious global shortage of vital chips. As such, the country’s automotive sector will lose CZK 200 billion in sales. The dire forecast for the rest of the year came from the Czech Auto Industry Association (AutoSAP) this weekend.

AutoSAP said domestic car production dropped by 53.1 percent year-on-year in September, with 56,157 cars produced. According to the association, the chip shortage could lead to problems greater than those seen during the pandemic in 2020. AutoSAP called on the government to activate an aid program for companies unable to operate due to the supply chain issues, as Škoda Auto announced that it would significantly limit for completely shut down production at its Czech plants starting next week.

Czech students help stork walk again with prosthetic leg

Students in the Czech Republic have fitted a stork that broke its leg while learning fly with a prosthetic leg to help it walk again. The new artificial limb will allow the bird to stand on two feet again. The bird reportedly injured its leg when it was first learning to fly, leaving it unable to walk.

The students created a prothesis for the bird using a 3D printer. The new leg is lightweight, and can be rotated by the bird allowing it to “fly, hunt and live a full life.” The leg will require periodic maintenance checks, so the stork will be given a home in a zoo or animal sanctuary instead of being released into the wild.

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