Czech crown falls against the dollar for weakest exchange rate since 2020

Plus: More top headlines for Sept. 23, 2022.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 17.09.2022 12:12:00 (updated on 23.09.2022) Reading time: 17 minutes

The Czech currency continues to weaken against the dollar

On Thursday, the crown weakened against the dollar by another 19 hellers, and with an exchange rate of 25.14 CZK/USD, is the weakest since mid-May 2020. Against the euro, the Czech currency has weakened by 3 hellers to 24.68 CZK/EUR since early Wednesday evening, according to data from the online server Patria. The crown has weakened against the US currency since the beginning of the week. On Wednesday, it weakened by 30 cents compared to the previous close.

At the end of a two-day meeting on Wednesday, the Monetary Committee of the U.S. Central Bank (Fed) raised the key interest rate by 0.75 percentage points to a range of 3.00 to 3.25 percent. By raising interest rates, the committee aims to slow inflation, which is the highest in four decades.

The central bank's decision was also reflected in the exchange rate of the crown. "Risk assets were hit by a red wave today, apparently following yesterday's Fed and increased bets on a tighter pace of monetary policy tightening from the ECB," said economist Kevin Tran Nguyen from Komerční banks. 

European Central Bank (ECB) chief Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday that the bank may have to raise interest rates to levels that limit economic growth to dampen demand and bring unacceptably high inflation under control. (ČTK)

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

President Zeman to attend V4 summit in Bratislava in October

In October, President Miloš Zeman will personally attend the presidential summit of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries. It will be held on October 11 in Bratislava. The presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary will discuss the war in Ukraine or the energy crisis.

Czech biathlete goes missing in the mountains

Former Czech biathlete Gabriela Soukalová went missing in the mountains during her holiday in Livigno, Italy. Soukalová was found safe by rescuers on Thursday afternoon. The two-time world champion and three-time Olympic medalist departed for a cycling trip on Wednesday.

Sept. 22, 2022

Czechia's first SMR could be built at Temelín by 2032

A small modular reactor (SMR) could be built in the Czech Republic at the Temelín NPP as early as 2032, Daniel Beneš, the Director of the ČEZ power group has said after signing a contract for the establishment of the South Bohemia Nuclear Park. South Bohemian Governor Martin Kuba said that nuclear energy is something that is fundamentally needed in Czechia. The establishment of the South Bohemian Energy Park, using the Temelin site to build the first SMR in Europe will also serve as an educational center for engineers, specialists, and other technical professions

ECONOMY Czech govt. to raise the living wage and child benefits

The subsistence level and living wage will rise in the Czech Republic; child benefits will be increased as well Labour and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka told reporters today. The coalition is still waiting for the current data on inflation to decide on the amount of the increases. The monthly minimum income or subsistence level was raised in July, due to inflation, from CZK 4,250 to CZK 4,620 for an adult in a single household, while in a family, the sum for adults and children was lower. The subsistence level is used to determine the social benefit recipients and for the calculation of some forms of support. This year, it was modified twice.

Benefits Government approves higher ceiling for housing benefits

The maximum housing costs or a ceiling for the calculation of housing benefits will be raised by CZK 2,000 to CZK 4,500 as of October due to the rising energy prices. The Czech government approved the change in yesterday’s meeting. The ceiling will rise by 11 to 68 percent based on the number of household members and the housing size. The increase will be the highest for single households and couples living in rental flats. The housing benefit goes to flat owners or tenants with permanent residence, for whom 30 percent of their income is not enough to cover the costs of appropriate housing. In Prague, this applies to 35 percent of the income.

Diplomacy Lipavský: Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens the UN

The United Nations (UN) organization and its principles are threatened over the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, a permanent member of the UN's Security Council said at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York last night. Quoting Czechoslovak and Czech post-communist president and dissident Vaclav Havel (1936–2011), Lipavský called on world leaders not to be indifferent. He called the Russian invasion "unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal." It not only violates the UN Charter, but also seriously harms the global economy, food safety, and the international.

Diplomacy President receives credentials of eight ambassadors

President Miloš Zeman received the credentials of eight new ambassadors yesterday and their operation in the country therefore officially began. The new ambassador from Poland, Mateusz Gniazdowski, specializes in Central European affairs and studied in Bratislava. The new ambassador of Norway is Victor Conrad Ronneberg who was ambassador in Kenya and worked also at the embassies in Denmark and Australia. Hungary is newly represented by Andras Baranyi, Chile by Hernan Bascunan, Algeria by Belkacem Zeghmati, and Iran by Seyyed Ghafeleh Bashi. New Zealand’s ambassador Craig John Hawke and Mauritius’ ambassador Christelle Sohun will be seated in Berlin.

Lipavský will give a speech in the UN Security Council today as the first representative to address this body after almost 30 years. The main topic of his address will be the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Weather Warming trend expected until Sunday

The rest of the week will gradually warm up across Czechia. Today, temperatures should rise to 12 to 16 degrees Celsius. The forecast calls for temperatures to rise by one degree every day to reach up to 19 degrees on Sunday, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ). The sky will start to cloud over on Saturday. Showers or light rain are expected on Sunday. At night, temperatures will mostly stay between 3 degrees and 10 degrees Celsius. Ground frosts may occur at night, which, especially on Friday, may endanger vegetation. After the weekend, temperatures will remain at up to 19 degrees Celsius during the day until Tuesday, then it is forecast to cool down slightly.  

Sept. 21, 2022

PUBLIC HEALTH First monkeypox death reported in Czechia

The first patient with monkeypox died in the Czech Republic. The news comes from data that countries send to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which reported the death. Until Sept. 20, 66 cases of monkeypox were recorded in the Czech Republic. Of those cases, 42 were in Prague.

Energy crisis President Zeman signs amendment to energy act

President Miloš Zeman signed an amendment to the Energy Act, which will allow the government to set the maximum price for electricity and gas. The government wants to limit the price of electricity to six crowns per kilowatt hour for power electricity and the price of gas to three crowns per kilowatt hour for small customers. The cabinet can now issue the relevant regulations

RUSSIA Czech politicians condemn Putin's mobilization of troops

Czech politicians have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for partial mobilization and have called for Prague and all of Europe to maintain its support for Ukraine as it fights against the Russian invasion.

Putin addressed the Russian public this morning on Russian public TV saying that the partial mobilization was a direct response to the West, which “wants to destroy our country” and “turn Ukraine’s people into cannon fodder,” according to the Guardian. The mobilization will mainly affect the Russian reservists and citizens with military experience.

ELECTION Babiš says he'll announce whether he'll run in late Oct.

Former PM Andrej Babiš told the Czech Press Agency that the senior opposition ANO party has four possible candidates for president, including deputy group head Alena Schillerová, first deputy chairman Karel Havlíček and former lower house head Radek Vondráček. He did not release the fourth name. Babiš said he would announce the decision on his presidential candidacy in the second half of October. He previously mentioned the particular date as Oct. 28, the national holiday. He said that personal reasons, not current election polls would be decisive for him.

COVID Czech pandemic law will remain unchanged

The Constitutional Court rejected a proposal put forth by MPs of the ANO and SPD opposition movements that would cancel part of the pandemic law. The amendment expanded and specified some tools in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. The opposition criticized first and foremost the procedure for adopting the law, but also some specific points of the amendment, including those that allow public health protection bodies to order isolation or quarantine by phone or via text message. The court reviewed the issue for almost a year and a half. Its is final.

Sept. 20, 2022

ENERGY CRISIS Czech Senate approves price caps for gas and electricity

The Czech Senate has adopted an amendment that will allow the government to set maximum prices for electricity and gas. The amendment to the Energy Act will now be signed by the president. The government wants to limit the price of electricity to CZK 6 per kilowatt hour for power electricity and the price of gas to CZK 3 per kilowatt hour, including VAT, for households and small consumers. Price caps come in response to the soaring energy prices in Czechia. The amendment to the act is also intended to better protect consumers who have prices derived from prices on exchanges in their contract.

DIPLOMACY Fiala extends condolences to King Charles III

Czech PM Petr Fiala personally expressed sympathy to the newly coronated British King in London where the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II took place on Monday. He later expressed how important it was for Czechia to be represented at a funeral attended by leaders from all over the world.

Speaking to journalists on the roof of the Czech embassy in London's Kensington neighborhood, Fiala said he had an opportunity to personally meet a number of foreign representatives at a reception in the Buckingham Palace, including King Charles III to whom he spoke with personally.

He said he had reminded Charles III of his tour of Brno's Masaryk University when Fiala was its rector, which Charles III recalled. The King mentioned several projects he had supported in Czechia including the reconstruction of the Baroque gardens in Prague, Fiala said, adding that it would be nice if the British sovereign could revisit the gardens.

Fiala was seated behind U.S. President Joe Biden at the ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

Healthcare Public health insurance costs to reach 471 billion in 2023

Public health insurance will cost CZK 471.7 billion in Czechia next year, which will be CZK 7.1 billion more than the expected incomes of the public health insurance system, according to the latest estimate by the Health Ministry. The ministry expects that CZK 464.6 billion will be received in health insurance payments in 2023. The remaining costs will be covered from the reserve funds of the health insurance companies.

The costs of healthcare services will 6.7 percent year-on-year, or by about CZK 28.5 billion.

ENERGY CRISIS Ministry proposes lowering temperatures in schools

The minimum temperature in schools except classrooms may be reduced, 17 degrees Celsius instead of the current 18 in gyms and corridors, based on a draft decree the Health Ministry has prepared as a step to help tackle the energy crisis. The draft amendment to the decree on sanitary requirements for schools also reduces the mandatory airing of classrooms and gyms. In classrooms, the temperature should remain unchanged at 20 degrees Celsius.

Sept. 19, 2022

Govt. Czech pensions to increase from January

The average monthly old-age pension in Czechia will grow by CZK 825 as of January as the solidarity part of all pensions will rise by CZK 140 and the merit part by 5.1 percent, according to the draft decision on the indexation of pensions published by the government on its website today. As of January, the merit part will also be increased by the bonus of CZK 500 per child. Along with this, the average old-age pension is to reach CZK 19,500 in January, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said.

ECONOMY Car production in Czechia sees growth

Car production in the Czech Republic rose 3.4 percent to 801,774 vehicles by the end of August in the first eight months this year, according to the Association of the Automotive Industry. The growth is due to the improving situation in supply chains; auto production has been hampered by a shortage of chips since May.

Since the beginning of the year, Škoda Auto has produced 452,907 passenger cars in its domestic plants, which is 6.9 percent less year-on-year. At the end of July, it was still recording a year-on-year decrease of 16.3 percent. Hyundai increased production by 17.1 percent to 213,600 cars. Toyota's production in Cologne rose by 26.8 percent to 135,267 vehicles.

The share of electric cars and hybrid production reached 10.8 percent. Škoda produced 45,618 electric vehicles, of which 35,977 were battery electric vehicles and 9641 were plug-in hybrid vehicles. Hyundai produced 40,606 electric cars, including 19,608 electric cars and 20,998 hybrids.

Safety Wild serval cat loose in Prague 4

Prague Police this morning said a wild serval was on the loose in Prague 4. The wild cat, which is native to Africa, escaped from a breeder. While it looks somewhat like a housecat, it is very dangerous. Anyone who sees it should not attempt to capture it but should call the police emergency number 158. Police have a specially trained crew to deal with animals. The serval is about 60 centimeters long and is named “Bejby” (Baby).  

Security Russian nuclear missile factory uses Czech machinery

A factory in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia that will produce dozens of Sarmat intercontinental missiles uses Czech machinery, Aktualne.cz reported. The Kremlin claims that the missiles can hit any place on earth with a nuclear warhead. The machinery manufacturers said they supplied them before 2014 before Russia occupied Crimea and sanctions came into effect. But they sent other components even after that. The Krasmaš factory in Krasnoyarsk was already a key manufacturer of intercontinental missiles during the Cold War.  

Weather Cold temperatures and rain to prevail this week

Temperatures this week will initially stay at 15 degrees Celsius, gradually starting to rise very slowly. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) expects frequent showers in the coming days, and snow in the mountains.  The hottest day will probably be Saturday with afternoon highs of up to 19 degrees Celsius. Today, the sky will be overcast to cloudy, it will rain in most areas. Isolated thunderstorms cannot be ruled out. On Tuesday, it may be partly cloudy in places, showers will appear again, mixed or snowy above 1200 meters. Ground frost may appear at night and in the morning from Wednesday.

Transport Czech Railways price increases will be less than inflation

Czech Railways (ČD) will not raise fares next year at the rate of current inflation; the price increase will be lower, Transport Minister Martin Kupka said on Czech TV. The average rate of inflation in the Czech Republic is now around 17 percent but the price increase will not exceed 15 percent, Kupka said, adding that he wants to find areas for savings. The exact prices for next year will be announced in December when the new timetable takes effect. In the first half of this year, the ČD group had a loss of CZK 931 million.  

Aviation About 110,000 people visit weekend NATO Days in Ostrava

About 110,000 people visited the NATO Days and the Czech Air Force Days in Ostrava this weekend. On Saturday the attendance was 85,000 and on Sunday 25,000. On Saturday, visitors could for the first time see a flight of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II plane piloted by the Dutch air force. A flight of the state-of-the-art Swedish fighter JAS-39 Gripen E was also presented, for the first time in Central and East Europe. The annual NATO Days is the biggest security show in Europe. The entrance is free and the event attracts visitors from all over the Czech Republic and from abroad.

Sept. 18, 2022

Weather Czech Republic sees first snowfall of 2022-23 winter season

There are still a few more days of summer remaining, but the Czech Republic has reported its first snowfall of the 2022-23 winter season this morning. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute shared photos of snow falling over parts of the country's Krkonoše mountains and areas in the region this morning.

A light dusting of snow covered the tops of mountains in the Krkonoše range this morning, as well as the Šumava mountains near the German border. Earlier in the morning, hurricane-level wind speeds forced the closure of the cable car to Sněžka mountain, the Czech Republic's tallest peak.

Sports Celebrations mark 100th anniversary of Zátopek's birth

Celebrations in the Czech town of Kopřivnice marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Czech Olympic runner Emil Zátopek culminated this weekend with a long-distance run for all ages. Zátopek, who won three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, was born in Kopřivnice on September 19, 1922.

Yesterday's festivities began with a garden party by the house where Zátopek was born 100 years ago. The 22-kilometer run ended at Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, where Zátopek and his wife Dana Zátopková, who won a gold medal in the javelin throw at the 1952 Olympics, are buried. Kopřivnice has been celebrating 100 years since Zátopek's birth throughout the year; a statue of Zátopek was unveiled in his hometown on Friday.

Economy Pirate Party proposes lowering VAT on fruits and vegetables

The Czech Republic's Pirate Party has introduced a proposal to lower taxation on fruits and vegetable, Pirate MP Jakub Michálek has told local media. The new proposal would lower the VAT on fruits and vegetable from the current 15 percent to 10 percent; to compensate, VAT on sweetened beverages would be raised from 15 to 21 percent.

The new proposal is based on rising energy costs that have impacted the agricultural industry and led to extreme rises in food prices. "This situation concerns everyone who prefers healthy food and faces the current extreme rise in food prices," Michálek says, adding that the measure would especially help local fruit and vegetable growers.

Politics Chinese Embassy criticizes Czech officials' trip to Taiwan

A trip to Taiwan by a Czech delegation led by Senator Jiří Drahoš "undermines political foundations of cooperation between the Czech Republic and China, and means obvious support for separatist forces and activities linked with Taiwan's independence," the Chinese Embassy in Prague has written on its website.

The Czech delegation is currently visiting Taiwan through September 24. The Chinese Embassy in Prague has previously condemned official visits by Czech politicians to Taiwan, including a trip by Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil in 2020, as well as the recent visit by Taiwanese parliament head You Xikun to Prague earlier this year.

Protest Hundreds join Communist Party protest at Prague's Wenceslas Square

An estimated 800-1,000 people participated in a demonstrations on Prague's Wenceslas Square yesterday organized by the Czech Republic's Communist Party, protesting the current Czech government's approach to the conflict in Ukraine and energy policy.

"According to our estimate, about 800 to 1,000 people joined the demonstration, despite the adverse weather," Communist Party official Roman Roun told local media. Police monitored the demonstration, and no incidents were reported. Two weeks ago, a similar protest by far-right parties against the current Czech government drew 70,000 people to Wenceslas Square.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Culture Prague's Church of St. Ludmila upgraded to Basilica

Prague's Church of Saint Ludmila at Náměstí Miru officially became the city's fifth basilica on Friday. In July, Pope Francis decided that the Church would receive the honorary title of basilica; yesterday's inauguration coincided with the anniversary of the assassination of St. Ludmila, who was killed on September 15, 921.

Prague Archbishop Jan Graubner presented the new Basilica of Saint Ludmila during a ceremony yesterday evening. During his sermon, he noted that St. Ludmila was the patroness of education and childhood, and that freedom is only possible with the combination of knowledge and education.

Zoo Female gorilla Duni arrives in Prague Zoo from Spain

Less than a week after receiving male gorilla Kisumu from Austria, Prague Zoo has brought back female gorilla Duni from Spain. Born in 2013, Duni is the daughter of Moja, who was the very first gorilla born at Prague Zoo. The new additions hope to continue Prague Zoo's successful breeding program.

Duni arrived in Prague on Friday afternoon, transported by aircraft operated by the Czech Army. "At this moment, Duni is already in within the new gorilla pavilion at Prague Zoo," Zoo director Miroslav Bobek wrote on social media after her arrival. "She is completely calm and explores her new surroundings with interest."

Weather Czech Republic to see rain, cloudy skies in coming days

Rain and cloudy skies are in the forecast for the Czech Republic heading into the next week, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Still, hopes for an Indian summer with higher-than-average temperatures have not been dashed.

Over the weekend, precipitation and cooler temperatures will be most prominent in areas of Moravia and Silesia, which are forecast to see highs of 10-14 degrees Celsius. By the end of next week, however, temperatures across the country could rise to the lower 20 degrees Celsius.

Politics Babiš calls Czech PM Fiala "coward" for avoiding TV debate

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has called current PM Petr Fiala a "coward" for avoiding a televised debate with him and other members of opposition parties. Fiala was originally scheduled to take part in a TV debate with Babiš, SPD head Tomio Okamura, and Pirate Party head Ivan Bartoš on Sunday, but withdrew due to Monday's funeral for Queen Elizabeth II.

"It's a shame, I wanted to ask the Prime Minister about his radical change of opinion in capping energy prices," Babiš wrote on social media. In response, Fiala wrote that he refuses to become a part of Babiš's "hybrid presidential campaign."

Crime Russian mole at Czech Foreign Ministry to escape without punishment

An alleged mole who reportedly delivered classified information to Russia for years from within the Czech Foreign Ministry will most likely not be punished by Czech authorities, writes Deník N. The Czech Republic's Security Information Service reportedly followed the mole for years, and presented the case to Prime Minister Petr Fiala earlier this year.

While espionage carries a potential sentence of 8-15 years in prison, however, the alleged mole will most likely avoid punishment as the evidence against him was collected by the Security Information Service. “It cannot be done because it is intelligence information that cannot be used in court," a high-ranking judicial source told Deník N. "The current law does not allow this."

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