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Proposed law on public tenders wins backing in lower house

A new on law on holding public tenders was passed in the lower house of parliament at first reading on Wednesday. Among the changes proposed are greater scope for the tender organizer to include other factors in the evaluation rather than just the lowest price. It also allow bidders with a poor past record to be disqualified and sets a 10,000 payment for appeals against tender decisions made to the competition office. The bill was originally supposed to be passed last week but was caught up in a arguments about whether to limit the influence of billionaire businessmen in politics and whether to disqualify them from public tenders. The bill is an attempt to put some order in the conflict over how to frame clear, effective, and fair tender rules. Opponents though says it paves the way for corruption.

Škoda Auto sees record February sales

The country’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto has announced its best ever February for worldwide sales. The manufacturer racked up total sales of 78,800 over the month, 3.6 percent more than in 2015. Sales in Western Europe and China were particularly strong. Škoda was also helped by the launch of new models of the top of the range Superb and down range Fabia.

Around 40 injured, mostly children,in bus accident

Around 40 people, mostly children, were injured on Wednesday morning when their bus overturned on a busy road near Louny, northwest of Prague. Emergency services were called in from Prague and the Central Bohemia region. Police said injured ranged from slight to serious. The injured composed 36 children and four adults. The bus is thought to have skidded on ice.

Pilsner Urquell set for record sales in 2015

Sales of the flagship beer Pilsner Urquell rose by more than 8 percent overall last year compared with 2014 based on sales on the domestic market and abroad. That means that a new record for overall sales surpassing the 2 million hectoliters of 2014 will be set. The beer is one of the main marks of Czech brewer Plzeňský Prazdroj, which belongs to the SAB Miller group.

Annual inflation eases to 0.5 percent in February

The rate of year-on-year inflation slowed in February to 0.5 percent from January’s 0.6 percent, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office released on Wednesday. One of the main factors for the slowdown were weaker price rises for alcohol and tobacco and more moderate cost increases for utilities and housing. Prices rose 0.1 month-on-month. The inflation figure is well below the target rate of the Czech National Bank of 2.0 percent.

Monument to US liberators in Plzeň may have to be rebuilt

A monument in Plzeň honouring the city’s liberation by US soldiers at the end of World War II may have to be rebuilt, the newspaper Plzeňský deník reported. There are visible cracks in the Díky, Ameriko (Thank You, America) monument and a study found that the two granite columns that comprise it are in poor condition. The mayor of the district of Plzeň where it stands said the columns would have to be replaced, adding that a discussion should be held on the future form of the monument, which was unveiled in 1995.

Central bank freezes most Czech activities of Russian bank

The Czech National Bank Wednesday took the exceptional step of banning the Russian bank active in the Czech Republic, ERB, from offering loans or accepting cash on accounts. Its remaining activity has been limited to zero risk areas. Most of the bank’s operations regard financing Czech business in Russia but it also offers basic banking services with branches in Prague and Karlovy Vary. It opened its first Czech branch in 2009.

Czech authorities imposed fines over Stork’s Nest farm of finance minister: report

Czech authorities have found discrepancies in the drawing of funds for the Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre of ANO leader and minister of finance Andrej Babiš with fines of 6.0 million crowns at one stage imposed, the server Neovlivni.cz wrote on Wednesday. The circumstances of EU funds awarded to the project are now being investigated by EU anti-fraud authorities. Babiš and his massive Agrofert agro-chemical group have until now maintained that Czech authorities had no misgivings about the funding of the centre.The company denied again on Wednesday it was asked to pay any penalty.

Czech farm sector sees dramatic slide in profit in 2015

The Czech agricultural sector last year saw overall profits slide dramatically from the record year of 2014, according to the Czech Statistical Office. Profits for the sector dropped by around 27 percent to around 16.9 billion. The main factor was lower prices for goods, in particular milk and pork but earnings were also affected by the drought over the summer. Overall sales in the sector amounted to 127 billion crowns with crops making up around 75 billion crowns of that. The Agricultural Association, which uses different figures and calculations, says profit more than halved last year to 9 million crowns from 19 billion.

Press: 14-year-old who killed girl planned more murders

A 14-year-old boy accused of killing a 13-year-old female friend in Teplice, north Bohemia last month was also planning to murder other girls, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday, quoting investigators. Though his family, his psychiatrist and the local social services were aware that the boy had serious mental problems a failure in communication meant he was not placed in institutional care, the daily said. The boy is reported to have pushed a friend into a lift shaft last year.