Czech tour operator Cool Travel declared it had gone bust on Tuesday. The small travel company is fourth in a series of recent travel company collapses in the Czech Republic. The head of the Czech Association of Travel Operators and Agencies, Tomio Okamura, said the customers already abroad had been taken care of and upcoming travellers were insured. The biggest recent tour operator crash was that of Tomi Tour. It left around 15,000 clients who had paid for holidays but not taken them in its wake.
The summer scandal over former prime minister Mirek Topolánek’s Tuscan villa holiday has taken a new turn. Czech newspapers said on Tuesday they had traced ownership of the villa to a Lichtenstein company, Raben Anstalt, which is in turned linked via a banker to Czech-Slovak investment group J&T. J&T is seeking to develop its energy business fast in the Czech Republic. Ironically, the head of the Civic Democrats also spent his Italian break with lobbyists from state-controlled power giant ČEZ. Party leaders on Tuesday made public the rental contract for the villa signed by Topolánek’s close adviser, Marek Dalík. He said he knew of nothing about Raben Anstalt’s business links.
The family of a Romanian Roma boy who died in a Prague hospital on Monday
left the Czech capital on Tuesday evening with his body for burial at
A convoy of cars accompanied the coffin of the 17-year-old said to be the
‘prince’ of an extended Roma clan. The boy died following a drowning
accident which left him in a coma. Many members of the family and clan
to Prague to be by his bedside as he fought for his life.
Confusion surrounded the funeral preparations on Tuesday. The family at first appealed for help saying they did not have the money to pay a funeral firm to transport the body. Prague city hall offered to step in to meet their cash shortfall but that offer was turned down with the family saying they had collected enough. The costs for a funeral company to transport the body to Romania was estimated at around 90,000 crowns.
In sport, Sparta Prague take to the pitch in Athens on Tuesday evening seeking to book their place in the next qualifying round for the Champions League. Sparta have a 3: 1 lead from the first home leg of the third round qualifier against Panathinaikos. If Sparta win they face one more round before getting into the group stage of the Champions League.
The company managing the Czech Republic’s only operational uranium mine has suggested that its deep facilities could be turned into a giant storage facility for natural gas. State mining company Geam has suggested that storage facilities up to one kilometre below ground could be provided at the Dolní Rožinka mine. One condition is that a private company comes up with the required investment, estimated at between 8.0 and 12.0 billion crowns. Geam mining manager Břetislav Sedláček refused to give details of ongoing talks about the project. Dolní Rožinka is the last uranium mine in Central Europe.
In connected news, ČEZ’s announcement has provoked protests from Austrian opponents of the Temelín plant. The environmental head of the regional council of neighbouring Upper Austria said that the environment impact assessment sought by ČEZ was flawed. He said the company had failed to first seek permission for a nuclear storage facility. Meanwhile, the leader of the far right Group for the Future of Austria has called for maximum civic protests against the extension. These include blocking frontier crossing points between the two countries. Austrian protesters say Temelín is a safety risk because of its original design and teething problems.
The Office for Personal Data Protection has slammed a state body in charge of supervising the authorisation and prescription of medicines for going beyond its remit in collecting data on patients. The watchdog said the State Institute for Drug Control exceeded its powers when creating a central prescriptions database. It said the material collected meant it was possible to tell what individual patients were suffering from. Czech pharmacists have campaigned for a long time against the database. The state institute has said it will use its right to appeal the watchdog’s findings by the end of the month.
Czech unemployment climbed in the second quarter of the year to an average 7.9 percent according to figures released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on Tuesday. That is a jump from the 5.2 percent in the same period of 2008. Around 45,000 more people joined the jobless total in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year, but the pace of rising unemployment is slowing compared with the previous quarter.
Czech electricity giant ČEZ has launched a tender to double the size of the existing Temelín nuclear power plant. Firms have been invited to bid for the contract worth hundreds of billions of crowns by the end of October. The winner is not likely to be declared until two or three years down the line with the two new nuclear reactors likely to take around 15 years to prepare and build. The tender has been launched although the government has not cleared the extension of the controversial power plant, an environmental impact assessment has not been delivered for such plans and the state’s revision of its energy programme is still not finalised.
Rudolf Jelínek, one of this country’s biggest distillers, recorded a 13 percent year-on-year drop in profits in the first half of 2009. The distiller’s earnings in the first six months of this year amounted to nearly 166 million crowns, it was announced on Monday. According to a spokesperson for the company, Zdeněk Chromý, the firm sold some 2.5 million bottles of spirits in the first six months of this year - in 2008, sales from January-July amounted to more than 3 million bottles. The distillers Rudolf Jelínek are famous for their plum brandy, Slivovice, but also for Borovička, which is made with pine needles and Hruškovice, which is made with pears.