News in brief for Oct. 2: Top headlines for Czechia on Monday

Conditions for early retirement go into effect, Karel Gott's home to become a museum, and more top headlines for Monday. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.10.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 02.10.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

ECONOMY Czechia's budget deficit falls substantially

As of September, the Czech Republic's budget deficit has declined to CZK 180.7 billion from August's CZK 194.6 billion. The Ministry of Finance attributed this improvement to the windfall tax on unexpected profits, which has contributed positively for four consecutive months. 

Despite being the fourth deepest deficit in Czech history, it's the lowest since the pandemic's onset. Notably, budget revenues for the year up to September increased by 23 percent, totaling CZK 1.437 trillion, while expenses reached CZK 1.617 trillion, a 12.4-percent rise compared to the previous year. Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura remains optimistic about maintaining the planned deficit of CZK 295 billion. To achieve this, savings of CZK 15 billion to 20 billion are necessary, mainly in operational and subsidy areas.

LITERATURE Czechia to be guest of honor at 2026 Frankfurt Book Fair

The Czech Republic has been selected as the guest of honor at the 2026 Frankfurt Book Fair, confirmed by CEO Juergen Boos in Prague. The Czech government has approved the plan, allocating around CZK 198 million from 2023 to 2027 for preparations and hosting.


The country aims to depict itself as a literary hub by the sea, building on its successful theme of the "literary sea" used in the 2019 Leipzig Book Fair. Boos expressed his introduction to Czech literature through Milan Kundera's work and highlighted the significance of storytelling and the economic potential of promoting authors globally through the fair.

DEFENSE Over half of Czechs doubt nation's defense ability

A recent survey conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre reveals that over half of Czech citizens question their nation's capability to defend itself in the event of a conflict, despite an overwhelming 84-percent majority emphasizing the importance of safeguarding state sovereignty. 

The survey shows a shift, as 40 percent of respondents express confidence in their country's defense capabilities, marking a 13-percent rise from the previous year. This shift is partly attributed to events such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the prior year. The public is similarly divided on another issue, as 46 percent perceive defense costs as an unnecessary burden of the state budget, while 50 percent do not share this opinion.

MEDICINE Thousands of doctors reject overtime work

In Czechia, approximately 4,900 doctors have refused to accept overtime work in December, according to a Facebook post by the young doctors' section of the Czech Medical Chamber. This protest arises from the recent legislation allowing up to 832 annual overtime hours, doubling the previous limit set by the Labor Code. 

The Institute of Health Information and Statistics reported 23,150 physician positions in acute care as of 2021. Young doctors argue that some hospitals already require more than the new limit. Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek has pledged to propose a law change to revert to the original overtime hours. Doctors are pulling out of voluntary year-long overtime agreements, citing legal limits reached in December.

PRAGUE Last Generation group announces Prague Tuesday highway protest

Activists from the Last Generation group have announced they will march along Prague's north-south highway on Tuesday, Oct. 3, advocating for a maximum speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour. The initially planned gathering in front of the National Museum was canceled by the municipality, citing safety concerns.

Originally scheduled for September, the march faced restrictions, prompting organizers to appeal to the court, which upheld their objection. The municipality intends to file a further appeal. The march will now proceed as announced, following traffic rules, and coordinating with the police to avoid disruptions. Previously, activists had planned to block traffic by painting on the road near the National Museum.

ECONOMY State debt rises CZK 357bn in second quarter

According to new data from the Czech Statistical Office, in the second quarter of 2024 government institutions in the Czech Republic saw their debt increase by CZK 357 billion compared to the same period last year, reaching a total of CZK 3.151 trillion. This caused the debt-to-GDP ratio to rise from 43.5 percent to 44.3 percent. 

Quarter on quarter, the debt increased by CZK 51.3 billion, pushing the debt ratio up by 0.7 percentage points. During this period, government institutions managed to achieve a surplus of CZK 26.9 billion, significantly better than the previous year's result. Central government institutions reduced their deficit year on year by CZK 46.8 billion.

Elections Slovak policy will be more moderate post-election

Following Slovakia's Sept. 30 elections, Czech political analysts predict that the country's foreign policy under the victorious Smer-Social Democracy leader, Robert Fico, will be more moderate than his pre-election rhetoric. Experts don't expect Slovakia to withdraw from international organizations and believe relations with the Czech Republic will remain unchanged.

Despite Fico's past radical rhetoric, pragmatic foreign policy will likely prevail due to coalition partners' influence. However, Fico may continue using strong rhetoric for domestic audiences. The election results were driven by economic dissatisfaction rather than pro-Eastern or pro-Western stances, with voters favoring Fico's return due to economic challenges and the disintegration of the previous government.

Economy Conditions for early retirement tighten from Oct. 1

From Sunday, conditions for early pensions in the Czech Republic will become more stringent. Individuals can retire up to three years before the retirement age, a reduction from the previous five-year limit. The amount received will be reduced more significantly than before, and longer contributions will be necessary to qualify. The merit-based portion of the pension will no longer be valorized until the regular retirement date.

Regular pension growth will slow down, and extraordinary additions during high inflation will change. The law also introduces a temporary allowance. These changes aim to curb the rapid growth of pension expenses. The opposition movement ANO plans to challenge the changes and their adoption in the Constitutional Court.

Ukraine Vehicle registration begins for Ukrainians in Czechia

As of Oct. 1, 2023, the Czech Republic is implementing a vehicle registration system for Ukrainians living in the country. Registration is voluntary until the end of the year, after which it becomes mandatory. Ukrainian citizens must register their vehicles within seven days of receiving temporary protection or a visa.

Failure to comply with this regulation after Jan. 1, 2024, may result in a fine of up to CZK 30,000. Registration is free, and specific documentation is required to enter the register. Detailed information is available at municipal offices, including Prague's Department of Transport and Administrative Activities.

Protests Several dozens of Armenians protest in Prague

Several dozen Armenians living in the Czech Republic protested at Old Town Square in Prague on Sunday, expressing their opposition to Azerbaijan's actions towards Nagorno-Karabakh, reports Deník N.

The conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has led to over 100,000 people fleeing the region, almost the entire ethnic Armenian population, following Azerbaijan's takeover.

Culture Karel Gott's home to become a museum

Ivana Gottová, the widow of Czech pop icon Karel Gott, has unveiled plans to establish a museum in memory of her late husband. Gottová announced the plans on the fourth anniversary of Gott's passing via Facebook.

The museum will be established in the Gott villa, located atop a hill in Prague's Smíchov, offering visitors an authentic glimpse into the acclaimed singer's life from 1974 to 2019. It is set to open in the latter half of next year, coinciding with what would have been the singer's 85th birthday and the fifth anniversary of his death.

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