The Czech Finance Ministry will temporarily ease austerity measures; instead, it will use government spending to stimulate economic growth, the news agency ČTK reported on Friday quoting the ministry’s fiscal outlook. The ministry expects this year’s deficit of Czech public finances to drop to 2.8 percent of GDP from 4.4 percent in 2012; in the following years, the deficit should remain at similar levels. The ministry therefore believes it will be able to use government spending to stimulate economic growth. According to the latest predictions, the Czech economy should stagnate this year, and grown by around 1.2 percent of GDP in 2014.
The organized crime unit of the Czech police on Friday raided the national stud farm Kladruby nad Labem, a subsidiary of the Agriculture Ministry, a police spokesman said. The raid is part of a large-scale operation in a number of places in eastern Bohemia and the capital. The police have not disclosed any further details, and said a report would be released next week. Some reports suggest the police operation is related to the distribution of EU’s cohesion funds in eastern Bohemia.
President Miloš Zeman wants to meet with Prime Minister Petr Nečas in the coming days to settle an ongoing dispute over ambassadorial appointments, the president told reporters on Friday. President Zeman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have failed to reach agreement on appointing some Czech ambassadors. Mr Schwarzenberg refused to accept the president’s nominations for several Czech embassies until the president approves his own candidates. On Thursday, the foreign minister said he would bypass Mr Zeman by filling vacancies at embassies with envoys in lower diplomatic ranks.
The Czech Republic fell for the fourth time in a row in the competitiveness chart of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), this time by two notches to 35th spot. The US topped the chart of 60 countries this year, followed by Switzerland and Hong Kong. Among the EU countries that joined the bloc in 2004, the Czech Republic placed 3rd behind Lithuania, in 31st spot, and Poland which ranked 33rd.
A new survey by the ppm factum agency, released on Friday, failed to confirm rising support for the senior coalition Civic Democrats. The Social Democrats came out as the most popular party in the poll, with 24.9 percent of voter support, followed by the coalition TOP 09 group with 16.2 percent. The Civic Democrats rank third with 14.5 percent. Another poll conducted by the STEM agency earlier this month suggested the Civic Democrats had edged TOP 09 to rank second among the most popular parties.
The STAN party of mayors and independents agreed to continue their association with the TOP 09 group. At their congress in Prague on Friday, STAN delegates agreed to continue cooperating on the national level with the right-of-centre TOP 09 group until 2017. The STAN won three seats in the lower house on TOP 09 ballots. Friday’s STAN conference was addressed by President Miloš Zeman, who told party delegates he supported some of their priorities including the direct election of mayors.
Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport has cancelled 32 flights on Friday due to dense fog in the capital. Another dozen incoming flights have been diverted to airports in Brno, Ostrava and Dresden, Germany, a spokeswoman for the airport said. The cancelled flights include connections to Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich, and other European destinations. More arriving flights could be cancelled later on Friday if dense fog persists.
A court in Ostrava on Friday sentenced a 39-year-old man to ten years in prison for killing a Romany man with a crossbow. The killing occurred in the north-eastern town of Chotěbuz last April when four Romany men searched for scrap metal outside the convicted man’s house. The man said he though they were thieves; he told them to leave and fired a bolt at them as they were getting in the car, hitting one of them in the head. The man later died in hospital. The court rejected the man’s claim he acted in self-defence and said the attacker was aware he could inflict severe injuries.
A court in Prague on Friday cleared two men of robbery charges. The men had been sentenced to 10 and 12 years in jail, respectively, for robbing 154 million crowns from a cash van in Prague in 2002; one of the men was tried in absentia. However, the trial was reopened last year after he was extradited from the Dominican Republic. On Friday, the court said there was no reliable evidence showing the men in fact took part in the crime.
Meteorologists have declared flood alert on several rivers mainly n in the north and west of the Czech Republic. Heavy rain has also swollen the Vltava in Prague where City Hall on Friday closed sections of the embankment. Up to 70 mm of precipitation is expected to fall in the borderland regions over the weekend.