Smuggling of the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine from the Czech
Republic to Germany remains a huge problem, according to the daily Freie
Presse. In an end-of-year assessment of the situation the daily notes that
Czech-German cooperation in clamping down on drug producers and peddlers
has not brought significant results and demand for the drug made in illegal
labs around the Czech Republic is growing both in Saxony and Bavaria.
According to the Czech ambassador to Germany, Tomáš Podivínský, illegal home labs in the Czech Republic produce around ten tons of the drug annually and large quantities are smuggled across the border, where demand still outstrips the offer on the black market. According to the head of the Czech National Ant-Drug Coordination Centre Jakub Frydrych only a fraction of the illegally produced drug ends up in the hands of the police.
In 2016 Czech police confiscated 91 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and cracked down on 261 illegal labs. German police confiscated over 14 kilograms of the drug.
The Transport Ministry has postponed the deadline on a public tender for a
road toll system on Czech motorways after the present contract with the
Austrian firm Kapsch expires in 2019. The original deadline, which was
January 11, has been extended until March 8th in view of the planned
introduction of a unified tolling service in the EU, the so-called EETS.
Four companies have so far entered the competition to operate the road toll. The firms in the running are Kapsch which is currently operating a microwave-based truck tolling system which has come under fire for excessive costs and disappointing returns to state coffers, Skytoll, which is operating a tolling system in neighbouring Slovakia, the German T-Systems International and National Toll Payment Services.
President Zeman’s office is reported to have gone over budget by 84
million crowns. According to the news site Manipulatori.cz the budget
allotted to the president’s office for 2017 amounted to 437.8 million
crowns, while expenditures are expected to total 522 million.
According to the office’s chief accountant the bulk of the extra money was spent on maintenance work at Prague Castle and Lany Chateau, the president’s summer residence.
MEPs from the Committee on Budgets have said they will request a copy of
the report by the European Commission’s anti-fraud unit OLAF on the
business dealings of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is suspected of EU
subsidy fraud in connection with a dubious grant for the Stork’s Nest
Farm and Hotel compound.
Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský of the Christian Democrats said the request would be filed in the first week of January, unless the Czech Finance Ministry released the report by that time. Finance Minister Alena Schillerová from Babiš’ ANO party has so far refused to release the document and has commissioned an expert analysis on which parts of it she could make public.
All other parliamentary parties have asked to see the report. The lower house is to vote in January on whether to strip the prime minister of his immunity, opening the way for prosecution.
Nearly eight out of 10 Czechs believe that 2018 will not be worse than the current year with the remainder taking a pessimistic view. That’s the outcome of a survey carried out for Broker Consulting by the survey agency Ipsos. Young people aged between 18 and 26 were the biggest optimists with the pessimists most predominant among those aged between 54 and 64. One in six of those who answered questions said they thought they would be able to save over the coming year. Fear of losing their job and having to rely on savings has fallen significantly due to the booming economy.
In ice hockey, veteran Czech player Jaromír Jágr played in his 1731th
game in the NHL on Thursday night, equalling the third placed tally for
match appearances of Ron Francis.
Jágr came back from a two match lay off caused by injury for Calgary to face San Jose. Jágr failed to score in the game and the Calgary Flames lost 2:3 in the shootout.
Minister of Finance Alena Schillerová said on Thursday that it was seeking
legal advice on what aspects of the Stork’s Nest report it could release.
Without such advice parts of the report by the EU anti-fraud report could not be released, she said. The minister added that with the appropriate clearance, parts of the report could be published with a matter of days.
She added that she herself had not read the report, said to be around 50 pages long and in English. Schillerová explained that the the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, has also sought permission to publish the report.
The contents and timing of the release of the findings could play a role in a vote of confidence in the government of ANO leader Andrej Babiš due to take place on January 10. The report should suggest whether Babiš or those close to him were involved in fraud using EU funds.
Top 09 lower house lawmaker Dominik Feri has lodged a demand in parliament
for the Ministry of Finance to release details of a report submitted to it
on the so-called Stork’s Nest affair by European Commission fraud
investigators. The Pirate Party said it had made a similar demand.
The European Commission has forwarded the report into whether ANO leader and prime minister Andrej Babiš and others fraudulently pumped EU funds for a recreation and hotel centre. Although the report has not been fully made public, the squad has called on the Czech Republic to exclude expenditures from the controversial Stork’s Nest project from an EU programme for the Central Bohemia region.
The Czech Ministry of Finance says it will decide how and whether to release the report and on the substance of the matter within two months. A spokesman later told Czech Radio a decision on what to release could come within 15 days. The Commission said last week the Czech state would end up paying the 50 million crowns subsidy in question.
Eleven people, including Babiš and his senior ANO colleague Jaroslav Faltýnek, have been charged in connection with the affair. The pair have parliamentary immunity after being elected in October and the Czech lower house is to decide on whether to allow them to face trial in connection with the matter. They deny any wrongdoing.
Around three-fifths of Czechs are in favour of relaxing the across the
board ban on smoking that was introduced in the country at the end of May
The law banned smoking in pubs, restaurants, and public areas after long resistance to such a move in the country.
The survey by the Median agency for Czech Radio found 58 percent of those questioned in favour of relaxing the ban with 40 percent against and two percent undecided.
Restaurants and pubs have been among the biggest lobbyist for a change, saying that their takings have gone down. The current health minister has said more time is needed to evaluate the impact of the ban before changes are proposed.
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia Pavel Mikeš: ‘If you wait long enough, an egg will walk on two legs’
New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
Divided by Freedom – Large-scale Czech Radio survey finds six social classes in Czech society
Josef Becher – the man behind Czech Republic’s iconic liqueur