Finance Minister Andrej Babiš says President Miloš Zeman is mistaken in criticising the Czech government’s accomplishments when it comes to making use of available European Union funds. Mr. Babiš said on Czech Television on Sunday that the country had missed out on a potential CZK 26 billion to CZK 30 billion in the period from 2007 to 2013, not CZK 35 billion as the president recently stated. The minister said Mr. Zeman was badly informed and that his government, which came to power almost two years ago, deserved praise for its achievements in drawing on EU money.
The great Czech poet Jaroslav Seifert was remembered on Sunday, the 30th anniversary of his death. People gathered in the Nobel Prize winner’s honour at his tomb in the graveyard in Kralupy nad Vltavou, where his maternal grandparents came from and where he requested that he be buried. After the laying of a wreath at Seifert’s tomb, actor František Kreuzmann recited poems by the Prague-born writer. An evening of reminiscences then took place at the local museum.
The minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, says a freshly introduced requirement for payers of value added tax needs to be changed. “Inspection reports” by which VAT payers have to send a regular overview of invoices to tax officials have been brought in with a view to improving tax collection. However, speaking on a Czech Television discussion programme on Sunday, Mr. Babiš said the legislation had been poorly drafted. He said sanctions linked to the inspection reports would need to be reduced while other changes will also be effected with an amendment set to come into force in June.
The Czech actress Alena Mihulová has received the Best Actress prize at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in the US. The 50-year-old took the award for her role in Home Care by Slávek Horák, in which she plays a selfless nurse. The film has picked up a number of prizes at festivals and is in the running for five gongs in the Czech Film Critics’ Awards, which will be announced on January 23.
Norway’s Petter Eliassen has won the Jizerská padesátka cross country skiing event in North Bohemia. The first Czech to reach the finish in the famous event – which consisted of 15 circuits of a 3.5-kilometre track – was Stanislav Řezáč in 12th place. Johan Kjölstad and Anders Auckland finished second and third, respectively, to give Norway all three spots on the podium.
The Ministry of the Environment will next month launch a pilot project aimed at water retention in the countryside, Czech Television reported. The Smart Municipality project will provide CZK 50 million to cities, towns and villages that produce innovative systems for retaining water, the minister of the environment, Richard Brabec, told the station. Mr. Brabec said some localities had already grasped the value of combining construction in that area with local or home waste water recycling systems. Last year the Czech Republic was hit by a severe drought.
Air quality in the Moravian Silesian Region has deteriorated with official limits for airborne dust particles exceeded at all its measuring stations, iDnes.cz reported on Sunday morning, quoting the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. Smog alerts have been in place in some parts of the region since the New Year. Pollution limits are currently being exceeded in some areas of the Ústí nad Labem Region while bad air has made breathing difficult in urban areas in the Olomouc area and the Zlín Region.
Dogs penetrated the fence of Brno Zoo on Saturday morning and killed two lama cubs, a zoo spokesperson said. Two adult lamas were injured by the dogs. Staff said they had seen two medium-sized dogs running out of the zoo in a repeat of an incident that occurred a month ago when three kangaroos and a lama were killed. The zoo said it was planning to repair the fence in the coming weeks. The police are investigating both attacks. In March last year a stray dog tore apart three greater rheas and an emu.
Thirteen people, seven of them children, suffered gas poisoning in Hlučín in the Moravian Silesian Region on Saturday morning. The incident occurred at the home of a family that looks after foster children. All of those affected were taken to hospital in Ostrava but none were described as being in a serious condition. A faulty gas heater was blamed for the leak.
The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed on Saturday that nothing had happened to Czech citizens holidaying in Hurghada in Egypt. Following an attack on tourists in the Red Sea resort on Friday, the Ministry said Czechs should employ heightened caution in Egypt. Foreign Ministry officials also recommended that Czech tourists register with a database of travelers before visiting the North African state. Two assailants injured two Austrians and a Swede in Friday’s incident.