Czechs have above average skills in mathematics, according to an OECD study of 16- to 65-year-olds in two dozen states conducted in 2011 and 2012. Czechs ranked ninth in maths among 22 OECD states, Russia and Cyprus. When it comes to literacy and computer literacy they achieved average placings. An official at the Czech Ministry of Education said the results of the survey gave the lie to suggestions that the country’s level of education had fallen.
Transparency International have called on the minister of labour and social affairs, František Koníček, to explain his ties to a company based in a tax haven. Mr. Koníček previously headed the state forestry agency Lesy ČR. The corruption watchdog said that while he was no longer active in the Cyprus-based Equity Brokers, his wife and daughter remained on its supervisory board; Transparency International said it owned several other firms that had won public tenders or drawn on EU funds in the Czech Republic. Mr. Koníček, who is standing for President Zeman’s party in elections later this month, said all the companies he was involved with in this country acted legally. Transparency also said that former MP Petr Benda and ODS regional leader Pavel Dlouhý had ties to offshore firms. The organisation said that such companies had won public tenders worth over CZK 150 billion in the Czech Republic in the last five years.
A new permanent exhibition has opened in the building in the East Bohemian town of Česká Skalice where Václav Havel shot the film Leaving. The garden of the Villa Čerych was used by the late president and dramatist in summer 2010 as the setting for his only movie, which was based on his play of the same name. His actress wife Dagmar took the lead female role in the film and donated some of the costumes and other items that are now on show.
Speaking on a four-day state visit to Israel, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, thanked his counterpart Shimon Peres for using the country name Czechia rather than the Czech Republic. Mr. Zeman said he himself preferred to use Czechia as it was nicer, shorter and less cold than the Czech Republic. After the breakup of Czechoslovakia some people began using the name Czechia, which is analogous to the popular Czech-language name Česko. However, it has not really caught on.
Prague councillors have approved a plan to build a new “D” line on the city’s metro system. The first part of the line, from Pankrác station to a depot in Písnice, will be 10 kilometres in length. The project will cost just under CZK 25 billion, which City Hall hopes to obtain from EU funds. It is unlikely to be completed before 2022. Construction work is currently underway to extend the A line from Dejvická station to Motol; the new stretch should open next year.
The Czech Republic’s official entry for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film looks set to be the Jiří Menzel picture Donšajni (The Don Juans). The Czech Film Academy had selected a film adaptation of the TV mini-series Hořící keř (Burning Bush) helmed by Polish director Agnieska Holland. However, it apparently does not meet the criteria for the Oscars. Donšajni, a comedy set against the backdrop of a small town opera company, had been second on the list of Czech nominations.
Czech industrial output increased by 1.6 percent year-on-year in August after an annual rise of 2.1 percent in July, the Czech Statistics Office said on Monday. In month-on-month terms, seasonally adjusted industrial output was 4.7 percent higher and the value of new contracts grew by 12.3 percent year-on-year. Industrial output in August followed July´s growth that came after a two-month fall. The biggest annual growth was registered in manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers at 26.1 percent.
The Czech Republic will fail to draw 30 to 70 billion crowns from EU funds in the 2007 to 2013 period. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said on Monday this was due to the somewhat complicated EU mechanism of fund drawing and the inability of many Czech public officials to present long-term projects and goals. The prime minister said he ascribed this failure to all post-2007 governments which had underestimated the task of drawing EU funds and closed their eyes to weaknesses in strategic planning.
The police are pressing criminal charges against a number of firms involved in the corruption case around David Rath, former governor of central Bohemia. According to the internet news site ihned the police have charged eight firms and 9 managers who were involved in manipulated public tenders. The police have not released the names of the firms implicated in the scandal. Companies convicted of breaking the law could be dissolved.
The Czech Academy of Sciences has protested against a recent statement made by Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok who said the academy received adequate funding but squandered money due to a poor system of assessing research results. The Science Council of the Academy rejected the claim saying it was not only unfair but it undermined the position of the Czech Academy of Sciences and belittled the value of thousands of successful projects undertaken.
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