Czech news in brief for December 4: Monday's top headlines

Czechia likely to raise minimum wage to CZK 18,900 monthly, Czech football team to face Portugal and Turkey in Euro 2024, and more headlines. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 04.12.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 04.12.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

society Health minister announces plans for penicillin factory

The Czech Republic will announce the start of construction for a new penicillin factory by the end of this year or in early 2024, Health Minister Vlastimil Válek told Blesk. The minister is working on finalizing minor technicalities with the Finance Minister and the Industry Minister before providing further details. Válek also said that there is currently an adequate supply of penicillin and other antibiotics in the country.

Discussions are underway with multiple license holders to potentially begin production within a year or 18 months. The Czech Association of Pharmaceutical Companies attributes the lack of drug production in the country to difficulty competing with Asian manufacturers. Válek also mentioned the Health Ministry's intention to purchase land in the town of Louny to construct a new child psychiatric hospital.

economy Czech grocery shops to increase prices in January 2024

Groceries in the Czech Republic will become more expensive in January, despite a drop in the VAT rate. Food suppliers are already notifying traders of price increases of 5 to 10 percent. The increase is justified by higher energy prices, transport costs, labor costs, and changes in taxes.

The Minister of Agriculture, Marek Výborný, mentioned that the number of shops per inhabitant in Czech Republic is three times higher than in Germany, leading to higher prices. Additionally, higher prices for drinks, such as soft drinks, are expected due to the increase in the VAT rate. Quality and food safety controls were also discussed at the meeting with retail chains.

security Germany extends border with Czechia until Dec. 15

Germany has extended border checks with the Czech Republic, Poland, and Switzerland until Dec. 15. The checks were initially resumed on Oct. 16 to curb illegal migration and have been deemed successful. A German Federal Interior Ministry spokesperson did not rule out the possibility of extending the border controls further, especially on the German-Polish border.

The checks are conducted at selected points and aim to prevent illegal entries and deter people smugglers. The European Union's external border security is currently deemed ineffective, and the checks will remain until it is reformed. Germany received over 267,000 asylum applications this year.

administration Czech citizens can now apply online for pensions

Czech citizens can now apply for various pensions, such as old-age, disability, widow, widower, and orphan pensions online, eliminating the need to visit social security offices. The application involves a digital form that requires an electronic identity and can be completed quickly.

The service provides pre-filled data, allows for saving and uploading documents, and offers online counseling. The Czech Social Security Administration plans to test the service in December and hopes for more online applications in the future.

environment Mandatory textile waste collection in Czechia to start in 2025

The Czech Ministry of the Environment plans to implement mandatory textile waste collection starting in 2025. Producers will contribute to the costs associated with collection. This initiative is part of the European directive on waste management. Minister of the Environment Petr Hladík stated that prioritizing the reuse of textiles and effective recycling is crucial.

Currently, textiles are not separated and are mixed with other waste, hindering recycling efforts. The plan includes establishing collection points at every municipality to facilitate citizen participation. The new law will also regulate the recycling of PET bottles, cans, and other materials.

tragedy Czech skier dies in Austrian Alps avalanche

A 51-year-old Czech skier lost his life yesterday in an avalanche at the Mölltaler Gletscher ski resort in Austria. The incident took place around 1:15 p.m. when the skier triggered an avalanche that swept him away and completely buried him. Despite efforts from bystanders and mountain service doctors, attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Following the incident, a search operation was carried out to ensure no other individuals were caught in the avalanche, involving 36 people and three helicopters. However, no other victims were found and the search was concluded.

weather Deep freeze hits Czechia with -25 °C reported in Šumava

In the coldest morning of the season, the Czech Republic awoke to -25°C temperatures, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ). Forecasters anticipate daily highs near zero throughout the week, with lingering snow and cloudy conditions.

Potential blizzards in eastern areas and mountainous regions are also forecast as is occasional snow and freezing fog. Night temperatures may drop to -10°C, with variable winds. Travel disruptions are likely.

Employment Czechia likely to raise minimum wage to CZK 18,900 monthly

The Czech government is likely to increase the minimum wage for next year by CZK 1,600 to CZK 18,900, according to the Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka. A second proposed option would raise minimum wage by CZK 2,100 to CZK 19,400. The goal is to reach a minimum wage within the next five years that sits at 45-50 percent of the average wage.

Jurečka supports moving towards 50 percent with the condition of abolishing guaranteed wages, but a majority in the consultation process leaned towards 45 percent with the retention of four levels of guaranteed wages. The cabinet will discuss this matter in two weeks.

Sports Czech football team to face Portugal, Turkey in Euro 2024

The Czech Republic will kick off the Euro 2024 tournament next year against Portugal, Turkey, and the winner of playoff C (Georgia, Luxembourg, Greece, or Kazakhstan). Tomáš Souček, captain of the Czech national football team, expressed satisfaction with the Euro 2024 draw, despite his initial wish to face Germany or England.

Souček, who plays in England, acknowledged the challenge posed by Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, but stated that he believes in the team's chances. Souček praised the draw's highlight, an opening match against Portugal in Leipzig, anticipating strong Czech fan support.

Health Health Minister to discuss healthcare wage increases

Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek is set to engage in discussions with health insurance company directors on Monday regarding strategies for increasing wages in the healthcare sector. The talks aim to finalize an agreement on remuneration for medical and non-medical hospital staff after a recent amendment to the labor code.

Some doctors have halted overtime work since December 1, demanding changes to the labor code and higher wages. Prime Minister Petr Fiala pledged CZK 9.8 billion from public health insurance to address doctors' salary concerns, intending to provide reimbursement supplements to hospital contracts with insurance companies. The specifics of the agreement await confirmation.

Money Czech wages continue to decline in real terms

The average wage in the Czech Republic has declined in real terms for the eighth consecutive quarter this fall, according to analysts contacted by Czech News Agency. Despite nominal year-on-year growth of around 7.2 percent, the rise in salaries continues to fail to keep pace with high inflation.

Sectors like real estate, information technology, and industry experienced notable earnings growth, while agriculture and construction lagged. Cyrrus Chief Economist Vít Hradil anticipates an 0.8 percent decline in real income, while Komerční banka's analysts project a 0.6 percent drop, and Raiffeisenbank forecasts a 1.4 percent decrease. The Czech Statistical Office will publish official data on wage growth this week.

Travel Czech travel agencies see high interest in winter vacations

During Christmas and New Year, travel agencies contacted by Czech News Agency have reported increased interest in holidays in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Oman. Sales for these dates match or exceed last year's figures. More Czechs are choosing to celebrate abroad, with a 20% increase in clients compared to the previous year.

The trend indicates a willingness to spend more on year-end trips. While New Year's Eve remains popular, there's a rising interest in celebrating Christmas Day in exotic destinations. Prices for stays during this period are generally higher, influenced by demand, supply, and increased costs of accommodations and flights.

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