ANO leader and minister of finance Andrej Babiš has said that the lower house of parliament should discuss at a special session whether the Czech Republic should accept immigrants. Babiš said on his Twitter account that he would not respect the EU quotas forcing the country to host its share of immigrants even if that meant sanctions. A similar call for a parliamentary debate on the issue was made by President Miloš Zeman, through his spokesman, on Tuesday. The Czech government eventually accepted a proposed share out of immigrants across the EU although it had opposed the move before it came to the Council of Ministers in September last year.
The former head of the special police squad for combatting organised crime, Robert Šlachta, has been offered a post as the deputy director of the Czech Customs Administration, the agency ČTK reported. He should take up the new position from September 1. Šlachta has been a key figure in the political row over the reorganisation of specialised police squads into one large unit, arguing that this was a means of neutering his widely respected police unit and braking investigations into key cases. He resigned from his post in June soon after the merger of special police units was announced. The merger sparked a battle within the government between the Social Democrats, and in particular Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec, and ANO leader Andrej Babiš. The Customs Administration is to be given stepped up power to tackle VAT and other criminal cases.
Officials from the Ministry of Labour failed to hammer out a deal between unions representing regional bus drivers and their employers on Wednesday. A ministry official said that a package of wage rises and improvements in conditions had been put on the table which approaches the demands made by unions. A new meeting between the sides is to take place August 26. Unions are seeking an average 130 crowns an hour for drivers bringing the monthly wage to around 22,000 to 23,000 crowns a month. The deal would cover around 11,000 drivers. Many complain their wages and conditions have been squeezed by competitive tenders for companies to serve regional bus routes.
Rail services on a busy route out of Prague were disrupted Wednesday when a goat fell from cliffs onto the track, damaging overhead wires in the process. The incident took place between Karlštejn and Beroun, part of the busy route between Prague and Plzeň. A spokesman for Czech Railways said it had no information on the state of the animal, adding that the rail company was not insured against falling goats. The line was reduced to one track but was expected to running back to normal by midday.
Sales of new cars in July in the Czech Republic have fallen year on year for the first month since the start of the year. Sales were down 12.5 percent compared with the same month in 2015 and by just over 27 percent compared with June. Total car sales for the first seven months of the year, at almost 152,000, are still 12.5 percent up on the same period last year. The Czech Republic’s biggest car producer Škoda Auto has seen sales climb by around a third so far this year and retains around a third of the local market.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its concern about new ballistic missile tests carried out by North Korea. In a declaration, the ministry said that the tests broke several United Nations Council resolutions. It urged the country to cease tests which have increased regional tensions. South Korea and Japan said a missile landed in Japanese waters after travelling around 1,000 kilometres. US military sources said two missiles were launched but the other exploded soon afterwards.
Czech bank Komerční Banka reported a 0.8 percent rise in profit for the first half of the year to 6.7 billion crowns. The increase was largely the result of a one off payment for the bank’s stake in credit card company Visa Europe. Without that boost profit would have fallen by almost 11 percent compared with a year earlier. The bank said that more customers and higher amounts on accounts could not compensate for the pressure on margins. Komerční is the first major Czech bank to report first half earnings figures.
Police, firemen and other emergency service workers will no longer have to work for 150 extra hours a year without any extra compensation or time off under proposed changes drawn up by the Ministry of Interior. The changes have been submitted for inter-ministerial consultation. Changes would also pave the way for higher payments for joining up, which the ministry argues is needed to attract a wider range of candidates and improve the services.
Viktoria Plzeň have reached the playoffs for soccer’s Champions League. After a 0:0 draw at home, the Czech title-holders got through on the away goals rule following a 1:1 result against Qarabag in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Tuesday night. Plzeň left it late, however, with a Michael Krmenčík goal drawing them level with only five minutes to go. Even if the West Bohemians fail to reach the Champions League they have now earned at least a place in the Europa League, the second-tier European club competition.
Sixty Chinese Christians have applied for political asylum in the Czech Republic, Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday. The newspaper said that if the Czech Ministry of the Interior were to accept their applications this would mean it believed that China violated human rights. The Christians, who arrived in the Czech Republic between February and May this year are being held at a detention facility, say they have been persecuted in their country because of their faith. Chinese citizens account for very few asylum seekers in the Czech Republic; last year the authorities considered four cases while the year before it was 15.