Czech news in brief for November 30: Thursday's top headlines

Czech drug smuggler on Europol's most-wanted list faces 24-year-sentence, parliament passes state budget, and Czechia's first ice day is on the books. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 30.11.2023 09:01:00 (updated on 30.11.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

society Life expectancy in Czechia to surpass pre-pandemic levels

Life expectancy in the Czech Republic is expected to increase this year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, according to preliminary data. The average life expectancy for men could reach 77 years, while for women it could be 83 years.

A projection by the Czech Statistical Office suggests that by the end of the century, life expectancy could increase by almost 12.5 years for men and over 9.5 years for women. This could necessitate setting the retirement age for people in their 50s annually. Proposed pension reforms are taking these changes into account.

economy Czech ammunition manufacturer sees record profits

Vlašim ammunition manufacturer Sellier & Bellot's total sales reached CZK 7.1 billion last year, with revenues for ammunition rising to CZK 5.9 billion. The net profit surpassed CZK 1 billion, driven by supplies to Western European armed forces. Sales related to the war in Ukraine accounted for less than one percent.

CEO Radek Musil expects a CZK 500 million sales increase this year. The company, which opened a new hall in January, plans to expand production to meet demand. Sellier & Bellot, part of the Brazilian company CBC since 2009, specializes in pistol and revolver ammunition.

labor Fiala offers striking doctors CZK 9.8 billion in wage increases

An agreement was reached today between Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Czech doctors, with Fiala offering CZK 9.8 billion from public health insurance for increased remuneration starting next year. The amendment to the reimbursement decree will make it binding for hospitals. The doctors will withdraw their protest if the offer is confirmed in writing.

Negotiations will continue with unions, hospitals, health insurance companies, and the Ministry of Health next week. Hospital operations were limited due to a lack of doctors, but surgeries may be planned again. Approximately 6,100 doctors have resigned from voluntary overtime work starting this December.

music Ed Sheeran adds another Hradec Králové concert date

After selling out the tickets for the concert of British singer Ed Sheeran on July 27, 2024, in Hradec Králové, organizers of the Rock for People festival added a second concert on July 28. Calum Scott will be the special guest. Both concerts will take place in Park 360 at the airport.

Visitors can expect a variety of activities, accommodations, gastronomy, and a shuttle service from the Hradec Králové city center. Tickets for the second concert go on sale on Monday, December 4 at 12 p.m.

economy Energy prices in Czechia to see significant increases next year

Electricity prices for households will rise by 65.7 percent in 2023, adding around CZK 1,077 per MWh. Gas prices will increase by 38.8 percent, the equivalent of CZK 125 per MWh. However, due to market price drops, final electricity prices will remain largely unchanged compared to this year, while gas prices are expected to decrease.

The Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ) has identified savings of around CZK 4 billion, resulting in a slight adjustment to the proposed increase in the regulated component. The regulated component will make up over 39 percent of the final electricity price for households, and approximately 20 percent for gas.

weather Weekend brings snow and frost across Czechia

The Czech Republic is bracing for a snowy weekend with up to 25 centimeters of snow in most areas and occasional snowfall of up to 35 centimeters. The north-west and north of Bohemia can expect a maximum of 15 centimeters of new snow. Snowdrifts and tongues of snow will form in many places.

Daytime temperatures will not exceed zero degrees Celsius, dropping to minus 9 degrees Celsius at night, according to the forecast of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

Economy Czech parliament passes 2024 budget

The Czech Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, passed the 2024 state budget with a CZK 252 billion deficit. The ruling coalition garnered enough votes despite opposition protests. The budget expects 2.3 percent GDP growth and increased spending on education, healthcare, and investment projects while cutting debt.

It aims to ensure stability during high inflation. Opposition leaders argued it would harm the economy while the government said it was prudent spending under difficult global conditions. The budget now goes to the president for signature into law.

Crime Czech drug smuggler faces 24-year sentence

The Liberec Regional Court will try Vilém Kovač, listed as one of Europol's 50 most wanted criminals, for drug smuggling as part of a multi-billion-crown case. Investigators say Kovac, 49, led a criminal group that trafficked over 7.5 tons of narcotics across Europe and stored drugs in warehouses in Liberec.

Police have charged 11 people and a company for smuggling cocaine, hashish and cigarettes worth billions over several years. If convicted, Kovac could receive an exceptional 24-year sentence. Two international teams aided Czech authorities in seizing smuggled drugs and charging those behind one of Europe's largest drug operations.

NATO Czechia may donate EUR 2.5 million to NATO Ukraine fund

At a July summit, NATO members affirmed continuing support and developing the fund into a long-term reform program for Ukraine's security. Most NATO members contribute except the U.S., France, and Italy. The Czech share is estimated at 5 million euros annually based on its 1 percent of NATO common funding costs.

The Czech government approved contributing up to 2.5 million euros (CZK 60 million Czech) to NATO's trust fund for non-military assistance to Ukraine. The fund, operating since 2016 in Prague, provides fuel, medical supplies, food, winter clothing, and drone defense systems to Ukraine.

Prague Online petition created against new train station

Prague citizens are pushing back on plans to partially demolish the city's central train station's check-in hall. An architectural competition proposal to build a wooden structure over the hall area has drawn criticism from over 800 people supporting an online petition.

The petitioners want the 1970s structure kept in place as an important example of its era's architecture. The Ministry of Culture maintains the hall is protected as part of a larger historic monument. As designers refine plans, the public will have a chance to comment on preserving Prague's landmark entrance gateway.

Weather Czechia experiences first 'ice day' of the year

The Czech Republic experienced its first ice day of the season on Nov. 29, according to climatologists. Temperatures did not rise above zero degrees Celsius nationwide. Data shows the average ice day between 1961-1990 was Nov. 26 but shifted to Dec. 2 between 2011-2020 due to climate change.

Fewer ice days each winter means less snow cover, complicating plant survival through bare frosts. While severe winters remain possible, long-term projections forecast warmer, snowless seasons ahead.

Economy Deputies convene emergency meeting to discuss energy prices

In response to mounting concerns over soaring energy prices, a second extraordinary meeting to discuss energy prices is planned for Thursday morning. Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček, highlights the urgency to address the country's high energy costs. Havlíček calls for transparency, urging the government to disclose revenue allocations from energy prices, including dividends from ČEZ and windfall taxes.

The opposition's initial attempt at an extraordinary meeting was hindered by the coalition, but Havlíček insists on utilizing emission allowances and negotiating exemptions with the European Commission. Prime Minister Petr Fiala emphasizes targeted measures, particularly an adjusted housing allowance, to address the impact on households.

Defense CZK 6 billion to go to defense development until 2029

The Czech government approved a plan directing over CZK 6 billion toward defense research and innovation through 2029. Under the new guidelines, money will support work on emerging technologies at defense research centers through 2029. Priorities include military geography, space systems, cybernetics, and robotics.

The funding aims to help the armed forces prepare for future threats by mastering autonomous systems, AI, and hypersonic weapons. The Defense Ministry's focus on boosting capabilities through long-term research aligns it with NATO and EU security strategies.

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