Czech head of state Miloš Zeman named ANO leader Andrej Babiš as prime minister for a second time on Wednesday afternoon. Babiš took the oath at Prague Castle at 2 PM local time. President Zeman’s move has launch the official second attempt by Babiš to form a stable government. His first attempt around half a year ago collapsed when he failed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament. Babiš, the overwhelming winner of elections last October, is currently trying to put together a minority coalition government with the Social Democrats which would also rely on the communist party for support in the lower house of parliament. The Social Democrats will announce the result of a referendum on taking part in the coalition on June 14.
The trade surplus widened in April compared with a year earlier. It climbed to 15.8 billion crowns, 3.8 billion more than in the same period in 2017.
The main factors fuelling the surplus were car, machinery, and electrical equipment exports. The main dents in the surplus came from increased imports of chemicals and coke.
The Czech trade surplus so far this year stands at 73.6 billion crowns. The statistical office said the overall trend is for decreasing exports and stagnating imports.
Nicholas Ilett, Director-General of the EU's anti-fraud office OLAF, has strongly objected to claims by the newly appointed Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš over the investigation into alleged subsidy fraud at the Stork’s Nest complex linked to his Agrofert empire.
Mr Babiš said earlier this year that OLAF was biased, arguing that the case was politicised both in the Czech Republic and in Brussels. His company Agrofert has lodged a complaint with the European Union ombudsman and at the EU’s Court of Justice over OLAF’s handling of the investigation.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš and nine others are suspected of having orchestrated a plan for his Stork’s Nest farm to acquire a 50 million crown EU subsidy which should technically have gone to small and mid-sized businesses. Mr. Babiš has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The government on Wednesday approved an amendment to the law on foreigners that would make it mandatory for people who seek long-term residence permit in the Czech Republic for the purpose of employment to take part in integration courses.
Foreigners should complete the course within a year of their arrival in the country. The amendment still needs to be approved by parliament.
The number of applications for long-term residence permits in the Czech Republic for the purpose of employment has increased from 3,000 in 2014 to over 13,000 last year. According to deputy Prime Minister Richard Brabec, integration courses could help mainly foreign students and scientists who want to work in the Czech Republic.
Czech adjusted industrial production fell in April compared with the same month in 2017.
Factoring in the difference of two working days, the annual drop in production was 0.2 percent year-on-year. Unadjusted, there was an increase of 5.5 percent. The main increases in production were focused on auto production, manufacturing of electrical equipment and production of metal products.
The value of new orders rose at an annual rate of 0.6 percent. While there was a slight drop in foreign orders this was more than compensated for by a 2.9 percent rise in domestic orders. This confirms that Czech domestic demand is still strong and one of the biggest factors fuelling economic growth.
The company created around the Czech search engine Seznam has continued its development in the media sector with the purchase of two local radio stations.
Seznam has bought majority stakes in the Classic Praha and Expres FM stations, according to the ČTK news agency, drawing on information in the Czech commercial register. Voice of Prague, the previous owner, confirmed Seznam’s purchase of the stakes which are likely to be officially announced next week.
The radio stations will draw on Seznam’s existing news services for the Internet and for its television channel which was launched at the start of the year.
The search engine Seznam is one of the few of its kind which have been able to challenge Google on domestic national markets.
Thursday is expected to be mostly sunny with daytime temperatures ranging between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius.
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