News in brief for May 2: Czechia records greatest budget deficit in history of the republic

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, updated regularly to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.05.2023 08:26:00 (updated on 02.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

ECONOMY Czech budget deficit largest in history of republic

The Czech Republic's state budget ended in a deficit of CZK 200 billion in April, the deepest April deficit since the country's founding. The year-on-year deepening of the deficit was due to rising pensions and social benefits, compensation for high energy prices, and state investments.

Budgetary revenues for the first four months of the year reached CZK 533.9 billion, while expenditures reached CZK 733.9 billion, making it difficult for the government to maintain the approved full-year deficit of CZK 295 billion. The state can still count on dividends and additional taxes, but analysts predict the deficit could be higher.

AGRICULTURE Bird flu detected in turkey farm, 15,000 to be culled

The Czech Republic has reported its 21st outbreak of bird flu this year, with highly pathogenic avian influenza of the H5N1 subtype confirmed on a commercial turkey farm in Rychvald in the Karvinska region. The outbreak has so far killed 250 of the farm's 15,192 turkeys, with the remaining poultry showing symptoms of the disease.

Veterinarians will cull the remaining birds and set up closed zones around the outbreak. In 18 cases this year, infection was confirmed in wild birds, 10 of which were seagulls. The H5N1 influenza is potentially transmissible to humans, and bird flu is caused by influenza viruses of type A.

CRIME Sprayer tags Czech war monument with 'Z'

An unknown person has sprayed the letter “Z” – a symbol supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine – on a monument commemorating the crash of a U.S. bomber in Polná, Vysočina, the town’s mayor said today.

The monument has been on display since 2019 as a reminder of the events of December 1944, when a U.S. fighter jet crashed near Polná. Local police have reached out to identity the person or people involved.

CULTURE Czechia vying to host Frankfurt Book Fair

Today, Czechia will submit a bid to host the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2026. The Ministry of Culture will present the so-called Bid Book, which outlines the country's proposal to host the renowned fair at the Czech Embassy in Germany. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books.

The Czech Republic has a good reputation as a guest of honor at the Leipzig book fair in 2019, where it presented a literary sea and nautical theme under the slogan “Ahoj!”. The Czech Literary Center, established by the Moravian State Library in Brno, seeks to promote Czech literature and sees the Frankfurt Book Fair as a significant opportunity to achieve this aim.

LAW Czech court – state should apologize for lockdown restrictions

People in Czechia can now officially demand an apology from the state for the emergency measures imposed by the Ministry of Health during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Supreme Administrative Court in Czechia ruled the ministry’s measures as technically illegal.

The condition for those who wish to file a complaint is that they must have already filed a lawsuit against the government for damages (such as financial) caused by lockdown-related restrictions. Those who seek an apology must make it clear that they feel their rights have been infringed. No mention of financial compensation was made.

WEATHER Experts confirm that tornado hit Czechia

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has today confirmed that a tornado did in fact strike the village of Lubná in Central Bohemia over the weekend. The institute verified the occurrence of the tornado based on eyewitness accounts and photographs. It is estimated that the tornado traveled about 500 meters. 

The speed of the natural phenomenon was about 128 kilometers per hour, making it a grade 1 tornado on the International Fujita (IF) scale. Saturday’s speed was less than half of a June 2021 tornado in Czechia, which reached over 300 kilometers per hour and took six lives.

sport Czech Judo against Russian athletes in world championships

The Czech Judo Federation announced today that it disagrees with the participation of neutral Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2023 World Judo Championships, which the International Judo Federation (IJF) allowed on Saturday. The IJF announced that before being approved, the athletes, coaches, and team members would undergo rigorous checks (for any pro-war sentiment), which would be carried out by an independent company.

Czech athletes will, regardless, compete in the championships due to potential qualification for the 2024 Olympics. Earlier this year, the Czech Boxing Association announced that it would boycott the IBA World Boxing Championships due to Russians and Belarusians taking part. 

Diplomacy EC head to meet with Pavel in Prague today

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen is set to meet with Czech President Petr Pavel in Prague Tuesday. The meeting was initially scheduled for April in Brussels but was postponed due to the birth of Von der Leyen's grandson. Among the topics to be discussed are the assistance to Ukraine and the future of the EU's relations with the U.S. and China, climate policy, and strengthening the independence of the EU in key raw materials.

President Pavel had previously discussed these issues with other leaders in Brussels in April, including the President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament.

POLITICS PM Fiala to convene coalition on austerity package today

A five-member coalition will continue to discuss proposals for state budget savings in the Chamber of Deputies today, reports Prime Minister Petr Fiala promised that the group will present the package in mid-May. The MPs are dealing with the tax package, which includes the taxation of extraordinary profits of banks and energy companies. Fiala will also discuss the package and changes in the government with President Petr Pavel.

The proposals for electoral reform, which include the introduction of one-day elections instead of the current two-day ones and setting a fixed date for senate, municipal, and regional elections, may also be discussed. MPs will also consider potential legislation that would make it easier for people and companies to eliminate their tax and social security debts.

Business Planned casino on Prague outskirt courts controversy

A plan to construct the largest casino in Central Europe in Rudná u Prahy, offering poker tournaments worth hundreds of millions of crowns, has drawn controversy, iRozhlas reports. Many locals oppose the project, which has courted controversy from the beginning, partly due to the alleged involvement of a man connected to the Russian-speaking mafia.

The project is to be built on a highway rest stop, in place of the dilapidated Atol Hotel. However, the alleged future operator of the casino claims that an esteemed American investor is working on the project and that all of his partners in the Czech Republic have been vetted.

weather Czech meteorologists predict a cold May

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI) has forecast below-average temperatures in the first half of the month, with a minimum temperature of around 5 degrees Celsius and a maximum of around 17 degrees Celsius expected. CHMI says that temperatures will return to average in the second half of May, with morning lows still dropping to just 5 degrees Celsius.

Precipitation is expected to be average in the coming four weeks. The Czech Republic is not expecting any abnormal weather conditions, unlike Spain where Córdoba recorded the hottest April day in history with a temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius.

In memoriam Lightfoot's music was performed by Czech artists

Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot has died at the age of 84 in a Toronto hospital. Along with Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell, Lightfoot is considered one of the greatest Canadian singers. His compositions were also popular in Czech music, covered by František Nedvěd, Michal Tučný, Wabi Daněk, and Martin Žák.

Lightfoot was the holder of 17 Canadian Juno Music Awards and has also received five nominations for the American Grammy Award. Despite rumors about extramarital affairs and health problems, Lightfoot continued to give concerts even in his 80s. He emerged as a folk icon from the local cafe and bar scene in Yorkville in the 1960s.

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