Czech news in brief for May 11: Czech parties, labor organizations react to big fiscal reform

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, May 11, 2023, updated regularly to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 11.05.2023 08:43:00 (updated on 11.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

ECONOMY Business groups show concern about govt. economic changes

According to the Czech Association of Passenger Railway Carriers, the government’s proposed fiscal reform will increase the prices of national train and bus tickets. "Fare prices will become more expensive. The amount of income will remain the same for the carrier, but the tax will increase, which will be reflected in the final price of the ticket and affect passengers,” said the association’s chairman.

The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises has also reacted to the reform in protest, saying that it will limit economic growth, harm small businesses (and self-employed people), as well as harm business competitiveness. 

CONSUMER NEWS Czech Post raises prices again

Struggling state postal carrier Czech Post will increase the fees of some of its services from July. Sending a normal letter will rise by CZK 4, to CZK 27. The cost of registered mail will increase by CZK 10, to CZK 72. 

The spokesperson of the company, which has recorded large losses in recent years and is currently being restructured, said that the price increase was due to rising operational costs and a decline in interest. Czech Post also bumped up some of its prices in February 2023 and October last year.

ECONOMY Czech opposition parties unhappy with financial package

Czechia’s opposition parties have reacted generally negatively to the government’s major fiscal-reform announcement that took place this afternoon. Chairwoman of the ANO moment Alena Schillerová wrote on Twitter that “all residents of the Czech Republic will become poorer next year…many entrepreneurs will lose their livelihoods.”

Leader of the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy party Tomio Okamura said similarly, labeling changes to the pension system – causing the short-term slowing of pension growth – as “unacceptable.” He also criticized higher VAT rates on beer.

IMMIGRATION Interior minister: Czech-German border controls unlikely

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan told journalists today that he sees it unlikely that Germany will implement border controls along its border with Czechia, having recently discussed the situation with German authorities. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for the border checks to be introduced.

According to Rakušan, current levels of illegal transit migration are similar to those of preceding years. In the first quarter of this year, the Czech police detained 2,658 refugees who were in the Czech Republic illegally, according to a report published on the Interior Ministry's website.

ECONOMY Czech booksellers voice anxiety over VAT rise

Czech booksellers and publishers expressed concerns about a possible rise in value-added tax (VAT) on literary material as the Book World Prague event gets underway today. Chairman of the Czech Booksellers and Publishers Association Martin Vopěnka said that "culture seems to be the main loser of the austerity package.”

Publishers and bookstore owners are concerned about the Finance Ministry’s plans to merge VAT rates, which could see books have a VAT rate of 14 percent (currently it is 10 percent). Other literary-related cultural events would have a VAT rate of 21 percent.

CRIME Arsonists who attempted murder freed early from Czech jail

Two men who were sentenced to 20 years in prison for an arson attack on a Roma home in 2009 are to be released on parole after serving two-thirds of their term, the Šumperk District Court announced today.

Václav Cojocaru and Ivo Müller must together pay damage of around CZK 17 million for their actions, in which three people were seriously injured, including a two-year-old girl. The other two perpetrators in the arson attack, Jaromír Lukeš and David Vaculík, will remain behind bars.

law Former Czech PM officially convicted of perjury

The appeals panel of the Prague Municipal Court has today upheld the decision to convict former Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas of perjury. He will be required to pay a fine of CZK 100,00 and hold a one-year suspended jail sentence for giving false testimony in court in favor of his now-wife Jana Nečasová. At the time, she was his lover.

The ex-prime minister, who was in charge between 2010 and 2013, is found to have lied to the court about his wife’s (mis)use of military intelligence.

Politics Coalition reaches an agreement on pension reform

The Czech government coalition has reached an agreement on a consolidation package and pension reform. All government parties had to make concessions, and the Deputy Prime Minister described the agreement as balanced. The package will contain 55 measures, including cuts in costs for personnel and subsidies, and the transfer of some items between reduced VAT rates.

The government aims to present the plans on Thursday. The Pirates claim they achieved everything they wanted, while TOP 09 expressed satisfaction with the result. The Deputy Prime Minister stated that the changes are "socially sensitive" and will benefit citizens.

Sanctions Family of Russian armsmaker owns real estate in Prague

The family of Boris Obnosov, the head of Russian arms holding Takticheskoye Raketnoye Vooruzheniye, which is under EU sanctions, owns real estate worth approximately EUR 8 million in the Czech Republic, according to a report by associates of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The Anti-Corruption Fund claims that Obnosov's son-in-law Rostislav Zorikov owns a four-story house in Prague's Žižkov district worth about six million euros through the companies Alterra and Riomax. The businessman also owns a 140-square-meter penthouse worth around EUR 1.1 million in Prague's Hlubočepy district. Navalny's associates plan to contact Czech authorities and ask them to impose sanctions against members of Obnosov's family and their companies.

BUSINESS ČEZ shares reach high not seen in 15 years

Shares of Czech energy company ČEZ have reached their highest price in almost 15 years, rising by 1.83 percent to CZK 1,222 ($56.05) per share. The last time the price was higher was in September 2008. The PX index of the Prague Stock Exchange rose by 0.42 percent to 1,389.99 points, driven mainly by the growth of the ČEZ issue.

Analysts say the upcoming publication of the company's first-quarter results, and speculation about a high dividend announcement from last year's record profit, has attracted traders to buy ČEZ securities. ČEZ's majority shareholder is the state, which holds around 70 percent of the company's shares. CEZ's net profit in the first quarter of this year fell by 60 percent year-on-year to CZK 10.8 billion, however.

EDUCATION Czech linguists want to preserve second language reqiurement

Czech university teachers of foreign languages have written an open letter to the country's education minister, Mikulaš Bek, urging the retention of second foreign language lessons in primary schools. The Czech Ministry of Education, under the previous minister, proposed ending the duty of primary schools to teach a second foreign language, aside from English.

The letter argues that this move would harm the future development of education and scholarship in Czechia. The teaching of a second foreign language became compulsory for grades eight and nine in 2013, and in March 2022, a ministry panel suggested pupils could choose it voluntarily.

Sports Muchová wins first match in Rome

Karolína Muchová won her first match at the Foro Italico in Rome, beating Kamilla Rachimova 6-4, 7-5. Muchová, who has reached three quarter-finals this year, is looking to return to the top 50 ranking. Linda Fruhvirtová, who made it to the round of 16 at the Australian Open, lost in her Rome debut to Elena-Gabriela Ruse 1-6, 0-6.

Tereza Martincová also lost in the first round to Alizé Cornet. Barbora Strýcová, Markéta Vondroušová, and Linda Nosková advanced to the second round, joining Barbora Krejčíková, Karolína Plíšková, and Maria Bouzková.

weather Showers ahead for the weekend

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) has forecasted temperatures ranging between 15 to 20 degrees Celcius during the day and 10 to 5 degrees Celcius at night with precipitation over the weekend. On Thursday, precipitation is expected in the southwest of the Czech Republic, while on Friday, it is expected to spread elsewhere.

The precipitation will decrease on Saturday and start again on Sunday and continue throughout the week. Thunderstorms are also expected in some areas. The weather will be partly cloudy, with occasional rain or showers, and a moderate winds blowing from the east to southeast.

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