The EC has warned Prague it will not subsidize overpriced or non-transparent projects from EU funds. The warning came shortly after the commission blocked the flow of EU structural funds to two regions in the Czech Republic on suspicion of irregularities. In response to the warning the Czech Transport Ministry withdrew subsidy requests to the tune of 110 million crowns, saying it wanted to review the infrastructure construction projects in order to make sure that they were fully in line with EC requirements.
The junior coalition party Public Affairs has demanded a free reign in choosing members of the government’s anti-corruption team. The team is to be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Radek John whose ambition to take a former aide from the Interior Ministry on board was recently thwarted by the prime minister. Mr. John said that if he was not allowed to choose his employees there was no point in him heading the anti-corruption portfolio. The media crossfire in this matter underlines strained relations in the cabinet following the April government crisis involving the junior coalition party.
Sales of fair trade products in the Czech Republic have gone up by sixty percent year-on-year, the CTK news agency reported on Tuesday. Sales in 2010 topped 80 million crowns, up from around 50 the previous year. Coffee is far and away the most popular fair-trade product, pulling sales up year by year, with chocolates, jam and honey next in line. The boom in sales is largely due to the fact that chain stores have now started offering the goods as well.
Plans to build a national centre of biotechnology and biomedicine in Vestec near Prague, are reported to have fallen through because the Defence Ministry has refused to transfer ownership of an unused plot of land to the Central Bohemia region. The 365 million crown project was to have been financed largely from EU funds. It is not clear why the ministry turned down the region’s request.
A Kuwaiti driver who drove his car straight at a traffic police officer in Prague will most likely escape punishment due to the fact that he has diplomatic immunity, the CTK news agency reports. The Kuwaiti national reportedly refused to cooperate during a routine check up and tried to run down a traffic police officer on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Saturday night. The police gave chase and caught up with the transgressor a few minutes later. The man is believed to be an employee of the Kuwaiti embassy. The CTK news agency notes that if he has diplomatic immunity the case will be shelved, similarly as that of an intoxicated Austrian diplomat who drove his car through a Prague park recently.
Czech centres for stroke treatment and rehabilitation have warned that due to low payments from insurance companies they are running into financial difficulties. The head of the Czech Neurological Society Ondřej Škoda said that unless local hospitals share the financial burden many of these specialized centres may be forced to restrict the number of patients they take on in the second half of 2011. The largest Czech health insurer VZP has said it is ready to negotiate the matter. Stroke is the second biggest killer in the Czech Republic.
Czechs have put US President Barack Obama, U.S. Foreign Minister Hillary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the top of a list of most trusted foreign statesmen, according to the results of a survey conducted by the CVVM polling agency. Close to 70 percent of respondents said they had the most trust in president Obama, followed by Hillary Clinton with a 58 percent trust rating. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won the trust of 48 percent of respondents while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy all received a thumbs-up from around 20 percent of respondents.
Czech consumer prices accelerated by 0.3 percent in April against March, following 0.1 percent growth between March and February, the Czech Statistical Office said on Tuesday. Higher clothing and footwear prices fuelled the month-on-month growth in line with analysts' expectations. Annual inflation slowed to 1.6 percent in April from 1.7 percent in March on slower growth in alcohol and tobacco prices. The annual pace was slightly below the Czech central bank's forecast.
The Czech state-run power giant CEZ said on Tuesday its first-quarter net profit shrank by almost two percent as compared to the same period in 2010. The company’s net profit fell to 17.2 billion crowns (709 million euros) despite 5.0-percent growth in operating revenue to 56.8 billion crowns, the company said in a statement. The drop is attributed to the global crisis which had a delayed effect on the energy sector, as well as to new taxes on carbon trading permits and solar power.
Reigning world champions Czech Republic beat the German team 5:2 in the final match of the second round at the World Ice Hockey Championships on Monday night. The Czechs were the only team to finish the group stage without losing a single match, and delivered a confident performance against Germany. They will play the United States in the quarter finals, to take place on Wednesday.
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Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break
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