Trade and Industry Minister Jan Mládek is heading a delegation of Czech business leaders on a four-day working visit to Egypt and Jordan. The aim of the visit is to forge new ties and tap business opportunities in the fields of engineering, energy, health and armaments. According to Minister Mládek there is a potential to increase the trade turnover with Egypt to one billion crowns by 2020. In Jordan there are opportunities opening up in the field on nuclear energy since Jordan is seeking to break its dependence on electricity imports which currently cover 95 percent of power consumption.
The Czech Republic is among seven EU countries with the smallest budget deficit and state debt, according to 2015 figures released by Eurostat. The Czech Republic had a deficit amounting to 0.42 percent of the GDP and a state debt at 41.0 percent of the GDP. Luxembourg, Germany and Estonia had surplus budgets in 2015 and Sweden a balanced budget. The least indebted countries are Estonia and Luxembourg.
In the first quarter of 2015 hygiene officers conducted over 4,000 inspections of restaurants and eateries around the country, Czech Radio reported on Friday. Seven eateries were closed down, 44 cases required sanitation measures and in 36 cases they ordered the food in storage to be destroyed. Inspectors handed out close to 800 fines to the tune of 2.4 million crowns. The most frequent problems concerned hygiene and food storage conditions as well as information provided regarding allergens in foods.
The majority of the 26 illegal migrants who were detained near the town of Domažlice on Thursday have been placed in the Běla-Jezová detention centre. Five of them are still being questioned by the police in order to ascertain their identity. Most of the migrants are from Afghanistan and have already been registered in Bulgaria or Hungary, two are from Pakistan. Eleven of them have no identity papers or passports. Police are still searching for the driver of the van who attempted to smuggle the group to Western Europe. If caught and convicted of people smuggling he could face up to two years in jail.
A group of MPs across the political spectrum have put forward a proposal which would lower the age of criminal responsibility in the event of exceptionally grave crimes, such as premeditated murder. Deputies would like to see the age limit lowered from the present 15 years to 13. The proposal also suggests raising the ceiling for exceptionally grave crimes for minors between 15 and 18 from the present 10 to 15 years. Adults convicted of the same crime face twenty years to a life sentence.
Industry Minister Jan Mládek has won the 2015 Oil Guzzler award, a mock prize established by environmental groups to highlight the worst anti-environmental stance, decision or project in any given year. Mr. Mládek won the award for the government’s long-term energy concept which relies on nuclear energy, brown coal and gives less space to renewables. The Green Pearl, a prize for the most shocking anti-environmental stand went to the head of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Vladimir Dlouhý for his comments regarding the possible impacts of the closure of the nuclear power plant at Dukovany on life in the region.
Nine Czech cabinet ministers are flying to Jerusalem for a join session with the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka tweeted on Friday. The talks will focus on security issues, business, bilateral cooperation in research and innovation and tourism. The two countries have above-standard relations and the tradition of joint cabinet sessions was established four years ago.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a bill which would give the Supreme Audit Office greater powers. According to the proposed amendment the office would in future be able to look into the financing of local and regional administrations, state funds, health insurance companies, public schools and companies in which the state is a majority shareholder. Up till until now the Supreme Audit Office could only check up on state property management and state budget expenditures. The bill will now be debated in the Senate.
Roma children in the Czech Republic still face discrimination in education, according to a study carried out by the Open Society Foundation. The study suggests that the situation has been changing for the better only very slowly, despite the landmark verdict of the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in 2007 that the Czech Republic violated the rights of Roma children by placing them in so-called special schools for children with learning difficulties. According to the Open Society Justice Initiative study, a disproportionate number of Roma children are still diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability and are sent to so-called “practical schools” which have a limited curriculum.
“Family film” by Olmo Olmerzu has won the Golden Kingfisher award in the best feature category at Finále Plzeň, an annual film festival presenting new Czech and Slovak feature films. The second feature film by the young Slovenian director, starring Karel Roden and Vanda Hybnerová, has already taken awards at festivals in Tokio and Cottbus. The award for best documentary went to Vitaly Mansky for “Under the Sun”, which exposes the workings of North Korea’s propaganda machine.