Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has suggested that the state will have to soon weigh up its options for action over the hard coal mining company OKD if a serious investor does not come forward. The prime minister temporarily took over as minister of industry and trade on Wednesday following the dismissal of previous incumbent Jan Mládek. Sobotka refused to elaborate on what the government’s options could be. The coalition Cabinet in mid-February refused a proposal from Mládek to buy up the mining company for one crown. OKD employs around 11,000 people with one mine, Paskov, due to close at the end of the month. The government has been seeking to close the remaining mines gradually so that environmental and social issues can be properly dealt with.
The lower house of parliament has rejected Senate proposals that would have watered down the rules for national parks and given local councils and inhabitants more room to push for development. The proposed upper house changes were backed by just 28 lawmakers with 109 opposed. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the original rules offered sustainable development for parks and increased the role of local authorities. The original version of the law backed by the lower house will now go to president Miloš Zeman. He repeated Wednesday he would veto the law.
A court has ruled that the daughter of war hero Josef Mašin should be able to inherit the family farm at Lošany outside Kolín in East Bohemia. In its ruling delivered Wednesday the court said it was clear that Josef Mašin was the rightful owner of the farm and that his daughter, Zdena, stood in line to inherit. Mašin was a member of the leading opposition group to the Nazi occupation before and during WWII. He was captured by the Nazis in May 1941 and shot on June 30 a year later at the age of 45. The court decision can still be appealed. The farm was later confiscated by the communist regime with the inheritance question complicated by the question of whether two sons, who dramatically fled to the US, also had claims.
Member of the European Parliament for the STAN party, Stanislav Polčák, has said he will not stand for any top post in the party at March’s congress. He is currently a deputy chairman of the party. Polčák’s announcement follows the revelations on Monday by Czech Radio about his connections with Zlín businessman Michal Redl. Redl is connected to the family of notorious Czech gangster Radovan Krejčíř. The party applauded his stand saying it was untypical in Czech politics.
State forestry firm Česky Lesy said that around 140,000 cubic metres of timber were damaged in the gales that hit the Czech Republic on February 24. Damaged trees represented around two percent of the annual quota of felled trees with damages estimated at around 16 million crowns. The biggest damage occurred in the Karlovy Vary region, followed by the Olomouc and Pilsen regions. The forestry company is warning people to stay away from woods in the following weeks because of the danger of trees falling.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a reflection of the state of confidence in the manufacturing sector, has climbed to its highest level since April 2011. The February index rose to 57.6 points from the previous level of 55.7 points in January. The index is compiled from factors such as the level of stocks, incoming orders, and the recruitment of new workers which are deemed to reflect the state of confidence in the economy.
The Czech Entrepreneur of the Year award has gone to Petr Chmela, the co-founder and co-owner of Tescoma, a Zlín-based kitchenware company that exports to countries such as Russia and China and has a thousand outlets around the world. The title of Entrepreneur of the Year in the technology category went to Martin Trtílek. He is the owner of PSI, which produces measuring devices for research on plants, algae and cyanobacteria.
The second phase of a system under which cash registers record transactions in real time on a tax authority database has begun in the Czech Republic. From Wednesday around 250,000 retailers and wholesalers also come under the electronic cash register system, which is the brainchild of the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš. The first phase, involving pubs, restaurants and hotels, started in December. Mr. Babiš says the system will reduce tax evasion. Critics argue that it places an excessive burden on businesses.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, discussed the UK’s planned exit from the European Union, the future of the bloc and next month’s EU summit in Rome in Prague on Tuesday with Joseph Muscat, his counterpart from Malta, which currently holds the EU presidency. The Czech and Maltese prime ministers said they held different positions on compulsory migrant quotas and had attempted to find a way forward on that issue during their meeting. Mr. Sobotka also brought up planned talks on food quality involving the Visegrad Four leaders on Thursday.
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