The moving of 16 Iraqi refugees to city-owned apartments in Brno has been temporarily suspended. According to the NGO Generation 21, which has organised the Iraqis’ relocation, they are considering leaving the Czech Republic. The refugees came to the Moravian capital within a government-supported relocation programme for 150 Christian refugees from Iraq. The programme has been recently suspended after an eight-member-family decided to return to their homeland and 25 others unexpectedly moved to Germany.
Czech industry is currently lacking at least 70,000 workers and thousands of university educated experts, such as chemists and mechanical engineers, a new analysis by the Czech Exporters’ Association suggests. According to the analysis, there are currently more than 117,000 vacancies on the Czech jobs market. The Exporters’ Association has called on the Czech government to loosen its visa policy to simplify attracting foreign workforce from countries such as Ukraine, Vietnam, and Russia to the Czech Republic.
Municipalities on the upper part of the Berounka River have protested against plans to build an anti-flood detention basin on the river. Representatives of 25 municipalities handed their protest note to the regional authority of Central Bohemia as well as to the agriculture and environment ministers. They argue that the dam would threaten the nearby protected landscape area of Křivoklátsko. The Vltava Water Management authority is considering the anti-flood dam to protect houses along the river from a 100-year flood, which could cover an area of up to 1000 hectares.
Czech economic growth this year should be around 2.5 percent, according to an estimate by the international ratings agency Moody’s released on Wednesday. The estimate is along the same lines at the Czech Ministry of Finance but slightly lower than the Czech National Bank, which sees growth this year at around 2.7 percent. Growth will be slightly higher, at just over 3 percent, in Poland, Slovakia, and Romania. Moody’s says the Czech Republic’s high rating of A1 is not under any threat with a stable outlook confirmed. It points out that the health of many local banks, such as ČSOB and Česká Spořitelna, is actually better than the parent company, Belgium’s KBC and Austria’s Erste Bank.
The Madonna Zlatokorunská, a valuable gothic painting of a mother and child, has returned to the Zlatá Koruna monastery in South Bohemia after 78 years. The painting, created between 1410 and 1420, will be accessible to the public as of April 17, representatives of the National Heritage Institute said on Wednesday. It was taken away from the monastery in 1938 in a move to pre-empt it falling into the hands of Nazi Germany. After the war it became part of the National Gallery’s collection. It was returned to the Catholic Church in the 1990s.
The lower house of Parliament has approved proposed new legislation on gaming and lotteries. The law should come into force next year. Among other things, the new legislation allows foreign online betting companies onto the Czech market and allows illegal betting web pages to be blocked. As of 2017, gambling will also be subject to two tax rates, 35 percent applying on gaming machines and 23 percent on the other types of gambling. The new legislation also only permits venues to have 15 gaming machines or more, which could lead to the closure of some 80 percent of the country’s gaming bars. Currently, there are currently 4,900 gaming bars in the Czech Republic and only about 800 of them meet that requirement.
Czech export of hops have dropped by 10 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, to total 3,668 tonnes of hops. According to the Hop Growers Association, the slump in profits amounted to over 250 million crowns. Last year’s crops were damaged by unexpectedly high temperatures and drought. Dry weather also caused hops to have a lower concentration of alfa acids, which are responsible for the bitter flavour in beer. Most of the hop exports went to non-EU markets, mainly to Asia.
Czech Airlines has announced it will renew direct flights from Prague to Beirut as of June 20. The airline will be flying to Lebanon two times a week during the tourist season, that is, until the end of September. Direct flights between the Czech and Lebanese capital were first established in September 1948. They were cancelled four years ago due to financial reasons. The Czech carrier plans to launch flights to 11 new destinations during the Spring and Summer months.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has criticised the police’s actions during a recent visit to Prague by the Chinese president. Speaking in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper Denik, Mr. Sobotka said he did not regard some of the force’s operations as reasonable or acceptable and described the removal of Tibetan flags as excessive. Earlier this week police president Tomáš Tuhý apologised for the police’s inspection of a Tibetan flag at the FAMU film school. However, President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday praised the force’s handling of Xin Jinping’s visit. Mr. Sobotka said he expected the minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, to inform the cabinet about the results of an inquiry into the police’s actions.
A former police instructor crashed into dozens of parked cars in Prague on Tuesday. Karel Kadlec, who is 46, was arrested in a street in the Vinohrady district adjacent to where he ran his SUV into 51 other vehicles. A witness told the news site iDnes.cz that he seemed to be acting deliberately and had rammed some vehicles repeatedly. Police said that the policeman – who had one per mille of alcohol in his blood – had been involved in a similar incident while under the influence last year.
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