Czech news for March 1: Budget deficit soars, government pension row continues

The top headlines in brief for the Czech Republic on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 01.03.2023 10:30:00 (updated on 02.03.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

POLITICS Government calls state of legislative emergency

After a day of back-and-forth debates in the Chamber of Deputies regarding a change to public pensions – lasting over 30 hours with only a few breaks – the government has confirmed a state of legislative emergency. This, in essence, means that the government’s legislation can now be approved faster with fewer obstacles from the opposition. Chamber of Deputies Speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová, who is part of the incumbent government, called the motion this afternoon. It will last until March 22.

TOURISM Czech tourism numbers still not at pre-pandemic levels

The Czech Tourism Union (ČUCR) has announced in a press release today that the number of visitors coming to Czechia will not return to its pre-2019 level until 2025 at the earliest. Just under 20 million tourists visited the country last year, which was 11 percent lower than in 2019. According to ČUCR head Jakub Juračka, the domestic tourism industry lacks staff and manpower to cope with higher levels of tourists. Juračka also said that Czechia’s spiraling inflation problem deterred some tourists, and will continue to do so.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE war Foreign ministry continues to push for war-crimes tribunal

The Czech government has today announced that it will continue to insist on the establishment of an international war-crimes tribunal to bring Russian individuals to justice. The state also wants to, via EU coordination, confiscate the finances and goods of Russian officials who are closely associated with the development of the Russia-Ukraine war. At the end of January, EU and Ukrainian officials met to discuss the idea of a new tribunal; Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský then said that it was “necessary” to bring people to account.

ECONOMY Czechia records huge budget deficit at start of 2023

The Ministry of Finance today reported that the state budget recorded a deficit of almost CZK 120 billion in the first two months of 2022. This is the largest it has been at the beginning of March in the history of an independent Czech Republic. The government late last year forecasted a total deficit in 2023 of CZK 295 billion, which – at the current rate – will be achieved around the halfway point of this year. 

LEGISLATION Czech MPs continue marathon debate on pensions

During a fierce government debate on the revaluation of pensions Tuesday, leader of the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy Party Tomio Okamura set a new filibustering record after speaking for seven hours. A filibuster is a (legal) act of prolonged speech that purposefully obstructs, delays, or prevents the passage of laws in a government assembly. Government debate lasted for over 10 hours Tuesday and continued into the early hours of today. Okamura and his party are strongly against governmental plans to reevaluate state pensions to lower-than-anticipated levels.

EU Fiala – Euro 7 environment norm needs changing

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told journalists Tuesday that he believed the “Euro 7” norm, which places limits on non-exhaust emissions from vehicles, can be changed to make it more “realistic.” The norm, in basic terms, means that drivers would likely need to modify their brakes and tires. Minister of Transport also said that the norm in its current shape is unacceptable for Czechia. If approved by EU member states, the norm would take effect from the middle of 2025.

METEROLOGY People in Czechia can see Jupiter and Venus tonight

People in Czechia will this evening and tomorrow be able to observe a close encounter between Venus and Jupiter. To mark the special event, the Štefánik and Ďáblice observatories in Prague will extend their opening hours. The astronomical phenomenon occurs just once or twice per year – 2023 is an anomaly, as last week the planets were also visible in the evening sky.

DIPLOMACY Austrian president to visit Czechia today

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen will today visit the Czech Republic to meet with counterpart Miloš Zeman, who is serving his final few days as Czechia’s president. Bellen will be the recipient of the Order of the White Lion, Czechia’s highest state award. Bellen will also meet with Prime Minister Petr Fiala to, among other things, discuss Europe’s energy distribution and the management of Ukrainian refugees across the EU.

PRAGUE Kino Atlas cinema gets revamp, to open in late March

Prague’s Kino Atlas has this morning announced it will reopen its doors on March 21. One of Prague’s best-known cinemas temporarily closed before Christmas for maintenance and operational work. It will now feature a second cinema screen, a larger cafe, and a new gallery that will show the works of Karel Vachek, a documentary film director who passed away in 2020. The cinema will mark its opening with a premier of the film Go Crazy by Zuzana Piussi.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more