The finance minister, Eduard Janota, has warned that the Czech Republic’s position on the financial markets could weaken significantly unless fundamental reforms are undertaken. Asked whether the country could go bankrupt otherwise, Minister Janota said it was not currently able to secure money for pensions, wages and investments on the financial markets. Speaking in Brussels, he also said adopting the common European currency in around 2015 would be unrealistic unless reforms were made. Mr Janota, a member of a caretaker cabinet that will serve until elections later this year, said there was little will to implement the necessary changes at the present time.
The Czech construction industry is unlikely to see growth until 2012, according to estimates by Euroconstruct, an umbrella group for agencies conducting research in the construction field. In a new report, it predicts a fall of 0.3 percent in construction output in the Czech Republic this year, followed by stagnation in 2011. Output should grow by 3.1 percent in two years’ time, as most of Europe returns to growth.
The governor of the Czech National Bank has indicated that it will not introduce any further interest rate cuts. In an interview for Tuesday’s edition of the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes, Zdeněk Tůma said he did not regard a drop below the current 1 percent interest rate – a record low – as realistic. Mr Tůma said it appeared the Czech economy had already hit bottom. His comments echoed recent statements by two other members of the board of the central bank.
The director of the Bohemian National Hall in New York says the city’s Czech Center, which is housed in the building, should become more open in the future. Petr Fejk, who since the start of the year has been in charge of the Czech state-owned building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, told the Czech News Agency that he wanted the Czech Center to become a real cultural and information centre, where people would come regularly and without fear of entering. The Bohemian National Hall, which was built in the 1890s, was reopened in late 2008 after extensive renovation funded by the Czech Republic.
The population of the Czech Republic could fall by 1.8 million by the year 2050 without migration, according to figures just released by the Czech Statistical Office. The country currently has a population of 10 million. The Czech Statistical Office says in a projection posted on its website that if people did not migrate from abroad and between particular regions of the country, all of the Czech Republic’s 14 regions would see falls in population of between 13 and 23 percent within 40 years.
A baby boy was seriously injured when he was hit by a falling icicle in
the Prague district of Nusle on Tuesday. The infant, who has a bad head
injury, is currently in intensive care at a hospital in the city. The ice
hit the baby in front of a building owned by the city, though it is not
clear if it fell from there or a neighbouring, privately-owned building. A
worker who examined roofs on the street prior to the incident said they had
not looked dangerous. Police are investigating the matter. Meanwhile, a
nine-year-old boy is also in hospital after being hit by ice which fell
from the roof of his school in Mladá Vožice, central Bohemia.
A similar case to the one in Prague occurred in the Moravian town of Hranice in 2006, when a piece of ice fell from a roof into a baby’s pram. Police charged the owner of the building with responsibility for the incident, but she was later found not guilty by a court. Several people have been injured and a number of cars damaged by falling ice and blocks of snow in the Czech Republic in the last couple of days, following a thaw.
Some 430 people in the Czech Republic could reach the age of 100 this year, according to figures from the national social welfare agency quoted by the news website novinky.cz. Of the pensioners born in 1910, more than four fifths are women. There are 488 Czechs above the age of 100: 410 women and 78 men.
Events have been held in Prague to commemorate the death of Jan Palach on January 19, 1969. Palach died three days after setting himself on fire on Wenceslas Square in protest at the public’s apathy in the wake of the Soviet-led invasion of the previous August. Students at Charles University’s Arts Faculty, where Palach himself was enrolled, laid flowers and candles by a plaque dedicated to him on the wall of the building. Meanwhile, Prague’s Aero cinema was set to screen a film in his honour.
The Minister of Defence, Martin Barták, is submitting a proposal to the government to increase the number of Czech troops in Afghanistan by 100. The proposal comes in response to a request from US President Barack Obama and the NATO alliance. The new force would be involved in training the Afghan police and will be operating a Czech artillery radar that has not yet been used abroad. Foreign Minister Jan Kohout has said he will support the proposal, adding that the Czech Republic should meet the United States’ request. Mr Barták also said that the proposal would have to be discussed on the political stage, as the deployment of Czech troops abroad consistently provokes sharp debate in Parliament. There are currently 535 Czech soldiers on duty in Afghanistan.