The Czech government has earmarked 150 million crowns for aid to countries most affected by the migrant crisis, the ctk news agency reported. The first 40 million crowns should go to the Azrak refugee camp in Jordan which currently houses 31,000 refugees. Another 20 million should go to Iraq and 55 million to Serbia and Macedonia.
The Czech Republic will receive another 870 million crowns from the European Union to combat air pollution, which remains a pressing problem particularly in the eastern parts of the country, the Environment Ministry said on Wednesday. The ministry has already approved subsidies for several dozen projects in this sphere worth 1.44 billion crowns in total. The extra subsidies should help finance projects approved in the Environment Operational Programme that had to be shelved due to lack of funding.
Commenting on the official launch of Brexit, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he hoped that a good working relationship could be agreed between the EU and Great Britain that would enable mutually advantageous close cooperation. He said the Czech Republic would primarily seek to protect the rights of Czechs living and working in the UK and aim for a deal that would prevent exports and jobs being placed in jeopardy.
The government has approved a draft law that would improve the circumstances of care-givers, families with three or more children and single parents who have problems with alimony payments. Labour Minister Michaela Marksova wants the state to provide advance payments to single parents in such cases and start legal proceedings to refund the money from the debtor. This latter form of assistance had been twice rejected by the government due to the meager chances of getting the alimony payments refunded. According to expert estimates the government would only be able to get back around 3 percent of the money spent on advance payments. The draft laws still need to win approval in Parliament.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has stressed the need to reach the best possible deal with the United Kingdom in the upcoming Brexit talks. Speaking on the day of the official launch of Brexit, Mr. Zaorálek said the UK had been a good partner in the EU and it was essential to try to salvage as much as possible in the field of economic, political and strategic ties with the country. He said it would be nonsensical to try to punish Britain for leaving the EU, although he personally found it difficult to understand Britain’s vote in favour of isolation in the present day and age. This is not a good day for Europe, or for the Czech Republic, Mr. Zaorálek said.
Czech bus drivers are to go on a one-day strike in protest of low wages on April 6th, their trade union organization announced on Wednesday, calling for broad participation in the protest. The strike is in protest of the fact that bus drivers have not been awarded the pay increases promised by the government and regional governments. Bus drivers on scheduled routes were promised that their pay would rise from just over 70 crowns an hour to just short of 100 crowns an hour. The nation-wide strike is expected to affect both city and intercity bus transport although some drivers may not support it. Drivers in the Pardubice and Jihlava regions have in the past refrained from joining strike action.
Members of the country’s security forces, police and customs officers, firemen and prison wardens will get a ten percent wage increase as of June of this year, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec tweeted following Wednesday’s cabinet meeting where his proposal won final approval. The increase will cost the state budget approximately 1.5 billion crowns. The average monthly wage of a Czech police officer is 35 thousand crowns.
Exports of Pilsner Urquell, the country’s leading beer brand, increased by ten percent year on year reaching 970,000 hectoliters, the company Plzensky Prazdroj reported. In addition to the traditional export destinations such as Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the United States there is also growing demand from countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Armenia or Israel. The share of tank beer in annual exports has also grown as have the number of restaurants abroad selling Pilsner beer on tap. In 2015 Prazdroj sold ten million hectoliters of beer at home and abroad. Last year’s figure has not yet been released.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is scheduled to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin next Monday, on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Czech-German Treaty on Good Neighborly Relations and Cooperation. Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Sobotka said he was glad that the two countries had managed to bury old hostilities relating to WWII and emphasized that cooperation with neigbouring Germany was a key priority for the Czech Republic. The talks, which will also be attended by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, are expected to focus on the outcome of the Rome EU summit, Brexit and the migrant crisis.