News in brief for Aug. 3: Top headlines for Czechia on Thursday

The Czech Senate signs off on a number of bills, castle visits on the rise in July, and Czechia's top-paid athlete revealed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 03.08.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 03.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

BANKING CNB keeps base interest rate at 7 percent

Today, the Banking Council of the Czech National Bank (CNB) has retained the country’s base interest rate at 7 percent. It has been unchanged since June last year. Today, the CNB also formally ended the intervention regime that supported the crown (it began in May 2022). 

The council this afternoon also emphasized its commitment to curbing excessive exchange-rate fluctuations that jeopardize stability. The CNB also noted that, although price pressures in the economy are easing, inflation remains too high for the central bank to start lowering rates. Alongside the base rate, the Lombard and discount rates also remained steady at 8 and 6 percent respectively, while the foreign-exchange reserves program was renewed.

diplomacy Pavel to meet Mozambican counterpart

Czech President Petr Pavel is scheduled to meet Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in Prague on Monday next week to strengthen Czechia’s relations with African countries. The meeting aims to enhance Czech foreign policy by addressing global concerns, including the situation in Ukraine due to Russian aggression. 

Nyusi, who has led Mozambique since 2015, has personal ties to the Czech Republic, having studied mechanical engineering in Brno. The engagement reflects Pavel's proactive foreign policy approach and desire to convey the Czech perspective on the Ukraine crisis. Mozambique's influence as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council adds significance to its role in international diplomacy.

INFRASTRUCTURE State will discuss public-private partnership plans for transport

The Czech government, including Transport Minister Martin Kupka, plans to enter negotiations for public-private partnership (PPP) ventures this summer. Discussions center around constructing transport infrastructure, particularly high-speed rail corridors. Although preparation might commence soon, the actual construction is anticipated to fall under the purview of the next government or beyond.

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Kupka recently revealed a budget of CZK 5.1 billion for transport infrastructure investments, repairs, and maintenance spanning 2024 to 2050. Over the next decade, approximately CZK 2.8 billion will be allocated. The state fund of transport infrastructure is expected to require an annual average of CZK 182 billion.

society Interior Ministry: Czech anti-establishmentarianism on the rise

The so-called anti-system (or anti-establishment) movement is gaining strength in Czechia, according to a new government report. The Ministry of Interior says that in the first half of the year anti-system groups also overshadowed and caused more disturbance than the traditional extremist scene. 

Supporters of the anti-establishment movement are dissatisfied with, or distrustful of, the government. So their hatred is not directed against, for example, a certain ethnicity. They are mostly people over 40 who have existential concerns. Leaders of the anti-system movement mostly make their mark on social networks and gain supporters with the help of conspiracy theories. The government points out that part of society continues to be influenced by Russia's military and fake-news-generating activities.

transport Czech Railways to invest heavily in train-maintenance center

State carrier Czech Railways has announced today its plans to invest CZK 5 billion in renovating and expanding the Michle depot in Prague, which is the largest train-maintenance facility in the entire country. The plan entails constructing a new four-track hall to maintain ComfortJet trains. 

The Michle facility is crucial for servicing various train types, including those for local and international routes. The renovation of the area also includes new track lighting, which should contribute to higher security and better security of the area. The total cost of the development in 2023 alone will be around CZK 241 million. 

crime Czech police report 69 hate crimes in first half of year

In the first half of 2023, the Czech Interior Ministry's report on extremism and hate speech recorded a decline in hate crimes, totaling 69 cases, with 26 incidents clarified by the police. However, the number of individuals prosecuted for hate-motivated actions increased by 15, to 43, compared to the same period last year. 

Predominantly, violence against groups and individuals remained the most prevalent offense, followed by acts of inciting national and racial hatred, dangerous threats, and defamation based on nationality, race, or ethnicity. Moravia-Silesia had the second-highest amount of hate crimes after Prague.

Politics Senate approves bill in support of small enterprises

The Czech Senate has approved an amendment to the Act on State Enterprises, allowing the government to increase the basic capital of state-owned enterprises if it is in the state's security interests or to meet important public needs. The amendment was also submitted in response to the financial situation of Czech Post, which requires total reorganization.

Currently, the law doesn't allow state-owned enterprises to increase their capital in a way similar to joint-stock companies. The amendment will now be signed by the president, enabling state-owned enterprises to expand their state-owned assets and access funds for necessary changes and improvements.

Culture July sees boom in visits to Czech castles

In the first seven months of this year, 2.35 million visitors toured state castles, chateaux, and monuments in the Czech Republic, marking a 10 percent increase from the same period last year. A National Monuments Institute spokesperson reported a gradual return of tourists after the Covid-19 period, with more school trips and senior excursions.

In July alone, 975,000 visitors explored state castles and chateaux, with popular destinations being Lednice, Český Krumlov, Hluboká nad Vltavou, and Karlštejn castles. Despite growing interest, the current number of visitors hasn't reached pre-Covid levels.

Sport Footballer Schick is highest-paid Czech athlete

Czech footballer Patrik Schick has become the highest-paid Czech athlete for the first time, earning CZK 203 million during the 2022/23 season. The Forbes rankings show a shift in leadership from basketball player Tomáš Satoranský, who had held the top spot for the past three years.

Schick's successful season in Bundesliga, scoring 24 goals for Leverkusen, contributed to his achievement, but he is currently recovering from a groin injury, expected to return to the field in October. Other top earners include NHL players Tomáš Hertl, Ondřej Palát, and David Pastrňák.

tragedy Remains of Czech tourist found in Austria

Human remains found on the banks of the Inn River in the Austrian Tyrol have been identified as belonging to a 28-year-old Czech man. The man had been reported missing by his partner in May, and large-scale searches were conducted before the body was discovered in mid-July.

The cause of death remains unknown, and police are investigating how the man ended up in the picturesque Alpbachtal Valley. An autopsy revealed no signs that foul play was involved in the young man's death.

Honors Record number of personalities nominated for state awards

The Czech Senate has nominated a record 100 candidates for state honors, including members of the anti-communist resistance group Mašín brothers and their sister Zdena, former Deputy Prime Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, dissident and singer Marta Kubišová, and architect Eva Jiřičná.

The number of nominees has been increasing in recent years, with strained relations between the Senate and President Miloš Zeman being a contributing factor. This year's candidates also include individuals involved in helping Ukraine against Russian aggression. The proposed personalities receive orders and medals for their outstanding contributions to the state and society. Awards are presented on Jan. 1 and Oct. 28.

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