The cabinet has approved a proposal from the Finance Ministry to issue bonds worth almost 210 billion crowns next year. The ministry plans to use these to buy up bonds already on the market, so the issue is not expected to increase state debt. The government also decided on Wednesday to add 7 billion crowns to next year’s budget for the State Agriculture Intervention Fund.
The Slovak broadcasting regulator has issued the very first fine for the use of Czech language on television. The Joj television station, owned by MAC TV, ran an English-language weight-loss program with Czech dubbing, breaking the law that limits the amount of foreign language programming on Slovak television. Since this was not the channel’s first violation, the regulator decided to issue a 200 euro fine. The language law has been in effect since 2008, and only one other fine was previously issued to Komárno television for running advertisements in Hungarian.
Cigarette makers Philip Morris are to discontinue production of some forms of the Start and Petra brands. Petra will disappear completely but the Petra Klasik will remain on the market, while regular Start will be renamed Start by Chesterfield and short Start cigarettes will continue to exist. Philip Morris, which dominates the local market, is retaining unchanged only one traditional Czech brand, Sparta. The reason for move is that sales of the “old school” lines have been falling faster than sales of cigarettes in general.
A baby Palm Cockatoo was born for the first time at the Prague Zoo this fall. No other Czech zoo has been able to breed this rare bird, and the last time a Palm Cockatoo gave birth in Europe was three years ago. The Prague zoo began caring for this type of cockatoo in 2008, when a number of these birds were confiscated from smugglers on Czech territory. This bird is native to New Guinea and some parts of northern Australia and is currently on the list of threatened species.
Meteorologists have issued warnings of strong winds and snowdrifts for the north and east of the Czech Republic. Strong wind warnings will be in effect for the whole country starting on Thursday at 5 pm. The strongest winds, reaching up to 90 kilometers per hour and possibly 125 kilometers in the mountains, are expected on Friday and Saturday. It is also expected that during the same time period around 5 centimeters of snow will fall in the lowlands and up to 40 centimeters of new snow in the mountains.
The likely next Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka says President Miloš Zeman would have to have a serious reason for refusing to appoint ministers in the nascent cabinet. Speaking on Tuesday, the Social Democrats’ chairman told reporters that the head of state could not reject nominees on the basis of political argumentation. There has been media speculation that Mr. Zeman could refuse to appoint Lubomír Zaorálek or Jiří Dientsbier of the Social Democrats, who are regarded as his opponents.
The Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats are continuing talks on the formation of a coalition government. The three parties’ leaders are due to discuss the composition of the cabinet and chairmanships of lower house committees, while negotiating teams will attempt to agree on a programme for government. The Social Democrats’ Bohuslav Sobotka says he wants to have a coalition agreement on the table by the middle of December. His party finished first in elections in October with 20.45 percent of the vote, ahead of ANO with 18.85 percent.
Petr Gazdík of TOP 09 and Tomio Okamura of Dawn will face each other for the fourth and final deputy speaker’s position in the Chamber of Deputies in a vote on Wednesday. Other candidates for the post have dropped out, the chairman of the lower house’s electoral commission told journalists on Tuesday. Mr. Okamura failed to win the position when he ran for it last week. Mr. Gazdík replaces TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek, who also proved unsuccessful in the earlier vote.
Petr Lessy has been reinstated as president of the Czech police force – despite the fact that the post is still occupied by the man who replaced him, Martin Červíček. Mr. Lessy was returned to the position by the minister of the interior, Martin Pecina, after a Prague court ruled that criminal charges of abuse of office and slander taken against him were unfounded. Mr. Lessy will remain on holiday until the situation is resolved. Mr. Pecina said he hoped Mr. Červíček would act on earlier intimations that he would stand down of Mr. Lessy returned.
The Czech Republic has done better in an international comparison of attainment among school students than three years previously. In the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment, which is organised by the OECD, Czech pupils fared better in mathematics, reading and science than they did in 2009. However, the Czech Republic still only showed average results among the 65 countries surveyed. Indeed Czech 15-year-olds were only above average in scientific literacy.