News in brief for Aug. 1: Top headlines for Czechia on Tuesday

Czechia could extend protection of Ukrainian refugees, alcohol-related accidents increased in July, and more headlines for Aug. 1, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 01.08.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 01.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

economy Czech budget deficit contracts slightly, still considerably high

At the end of July, the state budget deficit in Czechia narrowed slightly, to CZK 214.1 billion, from CZK 215.4 billion in June, according to Ministry of Finance data released today. However, this marks the second-worst public deficit for the first seven months of any year since the country's independence. Minister of Finance Zbyněk Stanjura said today that he expects the full-year deficit to reach around CZK 295 billion.

The revenue side of the budget has been significantly boosted, primarily due to higher collections of corporate income tax. By the end of July, the state received CZK 122.2 billion from this tax, marking a 37-percent year-on-year increase.

CONSUMER PRICES Most Czech gas stations raise diesel prices today

Today, the majority of gas stations in the Czech Republic raised diesel fuel prices by over CZK 2 per liter due to an increase in consumption tax by CZK 1.5 per liter. This tax hike returns prices to levels last seen in June.

Analyst Miroslav Novák at financial advisory firm Akcenta expects the price of diesel to rise by CZK 2.5 per liter in the coming weeks compared to prices in July. A liter of diesel in the Czech Republic cost an average of about CZK 33.24 on Monday. The current price of diesel is the highest in the last two and a half months.

REGULATION MPs submit proposal to regulate sale of psychoactive subtances

Eight politicians from various parties across parliament (excluding the Freedom and Direct Democracy party) have this week presented a proposal regarding the regulation of psychoactive substances, including kratom and low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis.

According to the proposal, to avoid confusion with regular products, these substances must not resemble food, cosmetics, or toys. Producers and sellers will need to register with the Czech Government Office, and advertising them will be prohibited. According to the explanatory memorandum, sales would be regulated more strictly than in the case of tobacco or alcohol. There would also be a ban on sales to minors. The government had previously considered banning them due to concerns about accessibility to children.

banking Raiffeisenbank reports 20pc decline in net profit in Jan-June

The Czech division of Raiffeisenbank has reported a 21-percent year-on-year decline in net profit to CZK 2.37 billion in the first half of this year. The bank's assets, however, grew by 12 percent, to CZK 664 billion. 

Operating income fell by 2.8 percent, mainly due to reduced net interest income, and lower fees and commissions. The bank's other revenues and expenses, including financial market operations, improved by CZK 222.2 million compared to the same period last year. The volume of loans granted to clients in the Czech Republic rose by 3.7 percent, to CZK 356 billion.

ECONOMY Eurostat: Czechia has second-lowest unemployment in EU

Eurostat data released today shows that, in June, the unemployment rate in the EU remained steady at 5.9 percent, with Czechia’s level at 2.7 percent. Only Malta had a lower unemployment rate, which was 2.6 percent.

However, there was a concerning increase in youth unemployment in the Czech Republic, rising to 13.7 percent for those under 25, nearly double compared to the previous year. According to the Czech Statistical Office, which uses different variables to calculate joblessness compared to Eurostat, in June Czechia’s unemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent.

healthcare Czech hospitals have treated 20+ badly injured Ukrainian troops

The Czech Defense Ministry has today announced that Czech military hospitals have treated 22 Ukrainian soldiers with severe wounds and amputations since Russia’s widescale invasion began 18 months ago. Currently, five patients are still under long-term care. The selection process is based on medical documentation and information provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, with Czech doctors choosing patients. 

Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová stated that offering treatment is a way to aid war-torn Ukraine without compromising care for Czech patients. The medical services for Ukrainian troops are covered by public health insurance, as the troops have been granted temporary protection status by the Interior Ministry.

Ukraine Refugees' temporary protection could be extended

The Czech Republic's Interior Ministry has proposed an amendment to the "lex Ukraine" law to extend temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees until March 2025. This extension would allow them to access public health insurance, education, and the labor market. As the war in Ukraine continues, the likelihood of refugees returning home in the near future is uncertain.

About half a million refugees from Ukraine have received temporary protection in the Czech Republic, with a third of them being children and young people. The proposal aims to ensure a smooth extension process, and a decision at the EU level is expected by the end of October.

Sports Bouzková eliminated in first round of Prague Open

Marie Bouzková, the defending champion at the Livesport Prague Open, suffered an early exit in the first round against Romanian Jaqueline Cristian. Bouzková struggled with her serve, losing eight out of fifteen games. Despite the support of a home audience, she couldn't complete a comeback, losing 4-6, 6-4, 4-6.

Disappointed with her performance, Bouzková expressed gratitude for the crowd's support and promised to return next year to make up for the loss. Even the presence of her brother as a ball collector couldn't bring her luck. Bouzková will now prepare for upcoming tournaments in Montreal, Cincinnati, and the US Open.

Society Alcohol-related accidents increased in Czechia

At least 36 people died in traffic accidents on Czech roads in July, three more than in the same month last year. From the beginning of the year, a total of 258 lives have been lost in accidents, similar to the figure for the first seven months of the previous year. The police recorded 7,200 accidents in July, with 171 people sustaining serious injuries and 2,166 sustaining minor injuries.

While the number of accidents and injuries decreased compared to last year, the number of accidents caused by alcohol increased. Car drivers were the most frequent casualty, with 13 fatalities reported.

Economy Excise duty on diesel fuel to increase from Aug. 1

The Czech Republic has implemented an increase in excise duty on diesel fuel by CZK 1.50 per liter, returning to the previous level valid until June. This decision comes amid efforts to raise state revenue and lower the deficit. Carriers are concerned about potential cost impacts and possible disadvantages compared to foreign competition.

The tax increase is expected to generate around CZK 800 million per month, benefiting both the state budget and the State Transport Infrastructure Fund. While the government claims the price of diesel will remain competitive compared to neighboring countries, carriers are cautious about future price adjustments. Fuel prices have fluctuated over the past year.

Culture Czech film festival to honor Polish director Kawalerowicz

The Summer Film School in Uherské Hradiště will screen films by Polish director Jerzy Kawalerowicz as part of the section called The Unknown Soldier, which introduces lesser-known names of world cinema. The festival has long been dedicated to showcasing Polish cinematography.

Kawalerowicz, known for his psychological films, is a representative of the new post-war school of Polish film. Four of his pictures are part of the exhibition, including Austeria, Train, and The Game. The Summer Film School started on July 28 and will run until August 3, with a diverse program of film screenings and accompanying events.

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