Czech agricultural turnover exceeded CZK 19.4 billion last year,
discounting EU subsidies, according to preliminary data of the Institute of
Agricultural Economics and Information, released on Thursday.
Agricultural production in 2018 rose by 9.1 billion crowns to over CZK 151 billion, while expenditures increased by CZK six billion to 175 billion.
According to the head of the Agrarian Chamber, Zdeněk Jandejsek, EU subsidies account for up to 25 percent of the country’s overall agricultural production.
The European Commission is seeking the return of CZK 1.6 billion paid out
in agricultural subsidies to the Czech Republic, iRozhlas.cz reported on
Thursday. The penalty is based on an audit carried out three years ago
aimed at establishing whether the funding was actually being used by
farmers under the “active farmer” concept.
The European Commission says the Czech Ministry of Agriculture failed to keep sufficient tabs on how the subsidies were being allocated.
The Ministry of Agriculture disputes the findings of the EU audit and wishes to contest the amount set. It will therefore request a conciliation procedure, iRozhlas.cz said.
Czechs will have to pay more for spirits and tobacco products in 2020.
Under a tax amendment approved by Parliament in December the excise tax on tobacco and cigarettes will go up by 10 percent in 2020, while that on spirits by 13 percent.
Certain forms of gambling will also see a tax increase from 23 to 25 percent.
While the ministry expects the price of a packet of cigarettes to rise by around five crowns next year, tobacco companies say consumers are likely to pay an extra 12 or 13 crowns.
Czech MPs have approved the government draft amendment to the Food and
Consumer Protection acts to impose steep fines on retailers selling “dual
quality” food and other products.
If signed into law, retailers who sell inferior quality products that appear to be the same as superior ones sold elsewhere in the EU could be fined up to 50 million crowns.
The Czech Republic has long pushed for the EU to ban “dual quality” product sales, arguing that the Single Market should not have de facto double standards.
Currently, for example, the same brand of frozen fish fingers sold in Germany may have 20 percent more actual fish (i.e. fewer fillers, such as breadcrumbs) than the version sold here.
Under EU law, if the packing accurately lists the ingredients or contents the practice is legal.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says administrative mistakes were the reason
why a Czech delegation led by Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman was
denied permission to fly from Moscow to Kazan this week.
The Czech delegation, which was to meet with Tatarstan officials and business leaders, cancelled the visit after waiting ten hours at Moscow airport and flew back to Prague.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Czech delegation had failed to comply with the customs regulations of the Eurasian Economic Union, adding that this was not the first time such problems had arisen.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has accepted the explanation saying he would initiate talks with the Russian side to make sure such problems do not reoccur.
He added however that, with a bit of goodwill on the Russian side, the administrative hurdle could have been overcome.
Fruit trees have been a common feature in the Czech and Moravian landscape for centuries. However, in the past decades, traditional orchards and fruit tree alleys have been disappearing at an alarming rate. A Brno-based initiative, called Pecky z Moravy, or Moravian Fruit Stones, aims to reverse this trend by collecting tree seeds and planting them in the countryside.
Over 330 tons of food and 52 tons of dry goods were donated to Czech charities and NGOs in the National Food Collection held this weekend. That is the best result since the tradition was launched seven years ago. The goods will be distributed among the country’s close to 24,000 homeless people and the 1.5 million living on the poverty line.
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