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16-08-2017

Top Social Democrat lays into low-paying businesspeople

The Social Democrats’ candidate for prime minister, current foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek, says entrepreneurs who do not pay decent wages are incompetents and scoundrels. He told reporters on Wednesday that anyone who claimed their firm would go under if the minimum wage was increased was incapable of doing business in such a way as to provide a normal life for their employees and should quit.

The Social Democrats are set to push for an increase in the monthly minimum wage from CZK 11,000 to CZK 12,200 at a cabinet meeting next week.

Mr. Zaorálek and his party’s social affairs minister, Michaela Marksová, said the current minimum wage was undignified given that monthly salaries of CZK 10,640 were considered poverty level.

Second quarter growth rates surprise analysts

The Czech economy experienced accelerated growth once again in the second quarter of this year, according to preliminary figures published on Wednesday by the Czech Statistics Office. Czech GDP expanded by 4.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, compared to a rate of 3.0 percent in the previous three months.

Analysts say this was the fastest tempo of growth since the end of 2015. Lower growth, of around 3.0 percent, had been expected for the April to July period. One analyst described the figures released on Wednesday as a “pleasant shock”.

Zeman may stand again after gathering sufficient signatures

President Miloš Zeman has collected enough signatures from Czech citizens to be able to run for office for a second time. His official campaign manager, his wife Ivana, said during a short briefing on Wednesday that he had gathered just under 60,000 signatures.

Mr. Zeman’s drive to collect signatures from voters was launched at the end of April. He has become the second candidate to surpass the threshold of 50,000 signatures, after businessman and songwriter Michal Horáček.

Babiš family accused of attempting to obscure farm ownership

Members of Andrej Babiš’s family attempted to obfuscate the ownership structure of the Stork’s Nest farm and hotel with a view to covering up links between it and the ANO leader, Czech Radio reported on Wednesday, quoting the police.

The station said this allegation was contained in the police’s application to the Chamber of Deputies to lift the immunity of Mr. Babiš and a party colleague so they can be tried for abuse of subsidies in connection with Stork’s Nest.

The police say that the brother-in-law of the billionaire ANO chief created a number of fake contracts in a bid to hide the true owner of the farm, who prosecutors believe is Mr. Babiš himself.

Stork’s Nest, which previously belonged to Mr. Babiš’s Agrofert, received around CZK 50 million in EU subsidies.

Record number of parties to contest October elections

A record number of 31 political parties and movements have registered take part in October’s elections to the lower house of parliament. That total is seven more than the last elections in 2013. Voters in Prague will have the biggest choice with 29 parties and groups competing. In the Karlovy Vary region the choice narrows to just 20 parties and movements.

Work starts on Palach film to premiere 50 years after invasion

Shooting on a new Czech film about Jan Palach is due to begin on Thursday. The movie will focus on the final months in the life of the student who set himself on fire in central Prague in January 1969 in protest at societal apathy in the wake of the Soviet invasion of the previous August.

The film has been written by one-time Charter 77 spokesperson Eva Kantůrková and will be directed by Robert Sedláček. If all goes according to plan, it will receive its premiere on August 21 next year, the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Soviet tanks in the then Czechoslovakia.

Nightmare start erodes Slavia Champions League hopes

In football, Slavia Prague have dented their chances of taking part in the group stage of the Champions League following a 0:2 defeat against APOEL Nicosia in the first leg match on Tuesday night. The Czech league champions conceded two goals in the first 10 minutes and struggled to get back in the game. A brighter performance in the second half saw Slavia hit the post. The return leg takes place next Wednesday with Slavia needing a three goal lead to go through.

Weather forecast

There should be rain and sunny spells in the Czech Republic on Thursday, with temperatures of up to 28 degrees Celsius expected.

Friday will deliver daytime highs of up to 30 degrees Celsius but the weekend is expected to see temperatures fall to as low as 19 Celsius.

16-08-2017