Around 4.89 million people are set to visit the Czech capital this year which makes it the ninth most attractive city in Europe, according to the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities for 2014. London, with an estimated 18.7 million visitors, tops the global index, followed by Bangkok, Paris and Singapore. Prague, which last year ranked 10th among Europe’s most popular destinations, is supposed to attract 400,000 more visitors than in 2013, and 1.1 million more than in the previous year. MasterCard CEO for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Miroslav Lukeš said that in total, tourists are expected to spend around 3.8 million dollars on each day of their stay in Prague.
The district of Prague 1 is not happy with a network of Tesco-owned Žabka convenience stores located in buildings owned by the municipality,, the district’s mayor, Oldřich Lomecký, told a news conference on Wednesday. Mr Lomecký said the local town hall was dissatisfied with the stores’ standards, the choice of available products and their quality; as a result, the authorities will cancel a rental contract with one of the stores, and would like to discuss the issue with Tesco management. If the situation does not improve by the end of the year, the municipality will consider renting the facilities to other firms, according to the mayor. Tesco acquired the nation-wide network of 135 Žabka convenience stores in 2011.
The Czech branch of the Greenpeace environmental group on Wednesday staged a protest outside the toy producer Lego’s Czech plant. The protest is part of the group’s global campaign criticising Lego for its partnership with the oil firm Shell which is planning to expand its drilling operations in the Arctic. In a statement released on its website, Lego CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said Greenpeace should handle the matter with Shell; meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace’s Czech branch said the protest was not aimed against Lego but was meant to highlight their cooperation with Shell.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Wednesday began debating a civil service bill. The legislation, put forth by the centre-left Czech government, should overhaul the rules for the employment of public servants. A similar act was adopted by Czech lawmakers in 2002 as a prerequisite for the country’s accession to the European Union but it has never entered into force. The current bill has come under criticism from the opposition which says the legislation will make it impossible to fire officials nominated by the coalition parties; however, the government claims the European Commission will halt subsidies for the Czech Republic if the bill is not approved.
In total, 84 foreign companies received investment incentives from the Czech government in the first six months of this year, Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek told reporters on Wednesday. Up to 10,000 new jobs should be created in the Czech Republic as a result, according to Mr Mládek. The ministry also provided incentives to 54 domestic companies which should create another 4,000 jobs. Minister Mládek also noted the Czech Republic would continue developing its nuclear energy sector, a plant that will be reflected in the country’s new national energy strategy to be revealed by the end of the year.
In football, Sparta Prague won the first leg of the pre-qualifying Champions League match against Estonian champions Levadia Tallinn 7:0. Sparta captain David Lafata scored five goals with a hat-trick already in the bag before the break. The return leg in a week’s time in Estonia now looks like being more or less a formality.
Government parties again failed to agree on a Czech nominee to be European Commissioner following a meeting on Tuesday night. The three contenders put forward by the parties are still in contention. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had said he wanted a result before leaving for a Brussels summit on Wednesday. He will now discuss the possible posts that Czech candidates might receive with incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker before the negotiations resume again in Prague.
Prague will be the ninth most visited city in Europe this year and the 22nd in the world according to a survey released by the credit card company MasterCard. Prague is expected to host 4.9 million visitors, placing it behind London, Paris, Istanbul, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome and Vienna but ahead of Berlin, Madrid, and Warsaw. The survey estimated that visitors will spend in Prague every day a total of around 3.8 million dollars. Five years ago, in 2009, Prague had 3.8 million visitors and in 2013 4.5 million, the credit card company said. London topped the list of most visited world and European cities.
Civic Democrat chairman Petr Fiala said it had more than 50 changes it wanted to push through to the civil service bill and would do everything in its power to reshape the proposal. Ministers should be given the chance to appoint deputy ministers from the business sector and outside the civil service Fiala said, adding that no negotiations with the government had taken place so far. He said the Civic Democrats were working on a strategy to challenge the bill with the main opposition party, TOP 09. Civic Democrats also said they will also try to cut current Value Added Tax rates to 20 and 14 percent thanks to an unexpected surplus in earnings from the tax.
A flurry of political activity is taking place Tuesday ahead of an extraordinary session of the lower house of parliament. The special session has been called by the government to push through a new civil service law. The law has been demanded by the European Commission for the last 10 years with the threat now being made that EU funding to the Czech Republic could be blocked. Centre-right opposition parties are warning they will launch delaying tactics during the debate to try and get some last minute changes to the proposed law. The government should be able to push the bill through given its comfortable majority.