News in brief for May 16: Petr Pavel and Zuzana Čaputová make their way to Iceland for EU summit

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, updated regularly to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 16.05.2023 07:55:00 (updated on 16.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

ROYAL VISIT UK's Prince Edward to visit Czechia next week

Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit the Czech Republic for a three-day trip next week. As the main patron and ambassador of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award (DofE) educational program, Prince Edward will meet with program participants and support young people, teachers, and schools involved in the program. He will arrive in Prague by train from Germany, emphasizing his commitment to ecology and sustainability.

During his visit, Prince Edward will plant a tree in Prince Philip's Alley, honor gold-level program participants at a ceremony in the Czech Parliament, and visit a DofE center in Prague. This visit marks Prince Edward's ongoing involvement with the DofE program following the passing of his father, Prince Philip.

BANKING Major Czech bank experiences outages

ČSOB, a Czech bank, has experienced service outages affecting instant payments, ATMs, payment gateways, terminals, and SMS services. The bank informed clients on social media that while the ČSOB Smart application is functional, certain services are still not working properly.

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It advised customers to use ATMs of other banks for cash withdrawals and acknowledged that their call center services are also affected. ČSOB attributed the outage to an internal issue, possibly related to a data center problem. The bank is working to restore services and apologizes for any inconvenience caused.

finance Govt. likely to increase parental allowance

According to the Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Olga Richterová, there is a general consensus in parliament that the amount of parental allowance will increase. 

Parties are now discussing the specific parameters – it is thought that the total contribution will be increased from the current CZK 300,000 to at least CZK 350,000. The rise is intended to match inflation levels of recent years, but will not be implemented before January 2024. The last time the parental allowance was increased was in 2020, by a total of CZK 80,000.

diplomacy Pavel and Slovak president save emissions by taking one plane

Czech President Pavel has today used the same plane as his Slovak counterpart Zuzana Čaputová on the journey to a conference in Iceland in a bid to save emissions and money. He also added that during the joint trip he has time to discuss common positions on various matters with Čaputová.

The pair, who will attend a Council of Europe summit in Iceland, plan to travel together for some future journeys. For example, they plan on taking the same plane on their way to Lithuania in July, when there will be a NATO summit.

PERSONAL FINANCE Trade unions – families will be much poorer after fiscal reform

Economists and leaders of the Bohemian-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS) expressed concerns today regarding the government’s consolidation package, stating that the reform would significantly reduce families' incomes.

CMKOS members presented at a press conference calculations showing the anticipated impact of the austerity measures. According to their analysis, a family with an average income in the private sector, consisting of both partners and one child, would experience an annual loss of approximately CZK 152,800 due to the government's measures. If both partners work in the public sector, the loss would be even greater, at about CZK 178,200. 

crime National crime unit raids Czech highways directorate

Police from the National Center against Organized Crime (NCOZ) have today visited the Czech Directorate of Roads and Highways (ŘSD) to investigate potential favoritism and collusion in the awarding of public contracts, and fraud. 

The NCOZ says that contracts issued between 2018 and 2020 were issued unfairly. Main prosecutor Tomáš Minx did not specify whether anyone had been arrested or charged. The ŘSD is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Czech Republic's highways and motorways.

WEATHER Floods possible in east of Czechia

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) has issued caution about river flooding this afternoon and Wednesday in the south of Bohemia and east of the country due to anticipated heavy rainfall. A “level one” alert (the lowest) is possible and a “level two” alert cannot be ruled out, the ČHMÚ says. 

Around 40 millimeters of rain are expected to fall in a 12-hour period in the eastern half of the country. The Jeseníky and Beskydy Mountains will see the heaviest rainfall, at over 60 millimeters. 

TOURISM Over 12 million visited Krkonoše Mountains in 2022

The Czech side of the Krkonoše Mountains registered record-high visitor attendance in 2022, with over 12.1 million visits last year alone. This is over 250,000 more than in the previous record year, 2018.

Over 80 percent of the visitors were Czech. There had been a trend of rising visitors in the years leading up to 2020, before Covid-19 shot numbers down. February 12, 2022, was the most-visited day.

POLITICS Czech PM calls trade union strike irresponsible

Prime Minister Petr Fiala criticized the trade union's strike alert as irresponsible after a meeting on budget consolidation measures. Fiala stated that dialogue should not involve coercive actions and that the government is unwilling to back down from its proposals but is open to discussing factual errors or technical shortcomings.

The chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, Josef Středula, emphasized the unions' call for dialogue on budget measures and pension changes, expressing support for the strike alert. The government plans to save CZK 62.4 billion in expenses and increase revenues through various measures. Employers also criticized the government's approach but disagreed with the union's actions.

sports Czech hockey loses to Latvia in overtime

The Czech hockey team suffered their first defeat at the World Championship in Riga, losing 3-4 to Latvia in overtime. In other matches, Slovakia was defeated by Canada 1-2 in a shootout, and the USA emerged victorious with a 3-2 win over Germany. Sweden also won the Nordic derby against Finland with a 2-1 score in a shootout.

In the Czech Republic vs. Latvia match, David Němeček scored for the Czechs, but Latvia managed to turn the score around. Dominik Kubalík equalized, and the game went to overtime, where Latvia secured the win. The Czech team's next opponent will be Slovenia.

ECONOMY Czechia could participate in US coal-conversion project

The European Union's climate plans, which include phasing out coal mining, will lead to the loss of up to 25,000 jobs in the Czech Republic. However, the Phoenix project initiated by the U.S. government aims to replace decommissioned coal-fired power plants with small modular reactors, reports E15. The project offers consulting and financing for feasibility studies on transitioning from coal to these reactors, with a focus on specific locations.

The goal is to accelerate the green transformation of European energy and retrain coal plant workers for reactor operations. Companies from seventeen countries, including the Czech Republic, have the opportunity to apply for the project. Czech energy group ČEZ is evaluating various small modular reactor projects, including the Phoenix project.

CULTURE Czechia says goodbye to an opera legend today

The final farewell to opera singer Soňa Červená will be held today at the National Theater in Prague, followed by a burial in Hradec Králové. The public will have the opportunity to pay their respects and lay flowers from 10:30 a.m., with the formal ceremony starting half an hour later. Červená, who passed away on May 7 at the age of 97, was praised for her artistic talent and charismatic personality.

After leaving Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, she achieved international recognition for her performances in renowned opera houses, notably excelling in the roles of Carmen and in works by Wagner and Janáček. She received numerous awards and honors throughout her career.

PRAGUE City to gift CZK 15,000 to New Year's babies

Prague City Hall has reinstated the tradition of granting a financial reward of CZK 15,000 to children born on New Year's Day. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda announced that 12 girls and seven boys born on January 1, 2023, would receive the reward.

The decision was met with opposition from the Pirate Party, who argued that it was unfair to other children. City Councillor Adam Zabransky expressed his disagreement with the monetary donation, suggesting that a citizens' welcome without a financial gift would be more appropriate.

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