Around 700 village pubs are reported to have closed down in connection with the introduction of a law on electronic cash registers at the start of December, the ctk news agency reports citing the results of a survey among the country’s 6,200 towns and cities. The pubs closing down generally offer beer, but not food, and serve as social hubs in small villages. The mayors of many small villages say they fear for the fate of small mixed shops which are often the only source of groceries for the locals. The introduction of electronic cash registers was the finance minister’s flagship project to curb tax evasion.
Employees of the Dutch retailer Ahold, which owns the Albert supermarket chain in the Czech Republic, have won a battle for higher wages. Ahold representatives agreed to a trade unions demand for a one-off 1,000 crown bonus in 2016 and an 8.5 percent wage increase in 2017. According to trade unions the average monthly wage of Albert employees is 12,500 crowns, Ahold claims it is 3,000 crowns higher. The wage dispute had dragged for some time and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka recently intervened on the behalf of Czech employees. Ahold employs some 17,000 people in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Education Ministry has asked the Czech Football Association to change the logo on the jerseys of the national team’s players. The national football team selected the two-tailed Czech lion, which appears on the country’s state emblem, for its logo, but according to the law on state symbols the team should by right have chosen either the state flag, the name of the country or the whole emblem which apart from the lion also depicts a crowned eagle. The national team is vehemently against the idea of changing the logo, saying it is a protected trademark.
The Czech Republic and Iran are seeking ways to further increase their growing trade turnover. Following a meeting with the visiting Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said he would like to see bilateral trade increase tenfold in the near future. Czech exports to Iran increased by 46 percent in the first nine months of this year and bilateral trade is expected to get a new impetus with the signing of an agreement on protection of investments between the two countries scheduled to take place early next year. The Czech Republic has said it is ready to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a bill that should introduce a broad ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants. The government-proposed legislation was defended by the newly appointed Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik who said it was a vital step in protecting public health and particularly that of the young generation which frequently topped the European ladder in tobacco and alcohol abuse. The draft law caused heated controversy in the lower house and there were numerous efforts to modify the ban, such as a rejection of the proposed amendment that would ban smoking in street cafes or cars with child passengers. The draft legislation now goes to the Senate. If it wins approval there and is signed by the president it should come into force in May of next year.
Consumer prices in November increased by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Friday. This development was primarily due to a rise in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages. The year-on-year growth in consumer prices amounted to 1.5 percent, i.e. 0.7 percentage points up on October and the most since June 2013. Analysts ascribe the higher than expected growth to the introduction of the law on electronic cash registers ahead of which many entrepreneurs increased prices to make up for the extra expenditures. Analysts predict that inflation may thus reach the Czech National Bank’s target of 2 percent in the first months of 2017.
British singer-songwriter Sting will be the main star of Prague’s Metronome festival, which will take place in the Czech capital in June, the festival's organiser Roman Helcl told the Czech News Agency on Friday. The former frontman of the rock band Police will perform with his three-member band, including guitarist Dominic Miller. Tickets go on sale on December 12.
The last round of matches in the Europa League group stage brought mixed results for the three Czech clubs in the competition. Sparta Prague will progress out of the group stage despite losing against Inter Milan 1:2 on Thursday night. Sparta are on 12 points in their group, followed by Hapoel Beer-Sheva and Southampton. Liberec failed to secure a spot in the next stage after it went down 0:2 against PAOK Thessaloniki, while Viktoria Plzeň ends the Europa League competition with a symbolic 3:2 win against Austria Vienna.
Miroslav Sklenář is set to replace Jiří Forejt in the post of the head of protocol at Prague Castle, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. Mr Forejt stepped down on Monday after the release of incriminating material which allegedly showed him snorting an illicit substance, half naked and in dubious company. Miroslav Sklenář has already worked as head of protocol, first under Václav Havel and subsequently under Václav Klaus between the years 2014 and 2015. Up till now, Mr. Sklenář has been employed by the China Energy Company Limited, a major foreign investor in the Czech Republic.