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President Zeman calls on MPs to back Babiš-led government

President Miloš Zeman expressed his support for the ANO-Social Democrat minority coalition in a speech at the lower house of Parliament ahead of Wednesday’s confidence vote in Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s government.

He praised the government’s programme statement, in particular its call for a 10-year investment program into infrastructure, both at the municipal and national level.

Ahead of President Zeman’s speech and formal debate, MPs from the conservative opposition party TOP 09 left the chamber to protest the fact that in exchange for their toleration of his government, Mr Babiš has made policy concessions to the Communists.

Another opposition party, the Christian Democrats, protested by unrolling a banner featuring the Soviet red star and declaring they would vote against any government relying on Communist support.

Consumer prices up 2.6% y/y in June, driven by fuel, electricity and rent

Consumer prices in June rose 2.6% year on year, driven by higher costs for fuel, electricity, and household rent, the Czech Statistical Office said on Wednesday. Prices for telecommunications, clothing and heating fell in annual terms. Inflation has accelerated for a third consecutive month, following a growth rate of 2.2% y/y in May.

Some analysts predict the Czech National Bank will again intervene to stem inflation by increasing key interest rates. On 27 June, the central bank raised rates for a fourth time in just under a year, setting the two-week repo rate a 1% from 0.75%.

The country’s economy continues to accelerate and record-low unemployment is pushing up wages. Another unexpectedly strong inflationary factor has been the weakening of the crown against major world currencies. The crown is now at its lowest level against the euro in nearly a year, at CZK 25.9/EUR.

Jobless rate falls to 2.9 percent

Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell to 2.9 percent in June, down from 3.0 percent the previous month, according to official figures released on Wednesday. In June last year the jobless rate stood at 4.0 percent.

The number of jobless last month was the lowest since July 1997, while number of vacant posts climbed last month to over 301,500.

Czech parliamentary chairman to pay 10-day official visit to the US

The chairman of the lower house of parliament, Radek Vondráček (ANO), announced on Wednesday he will pay a 10-day official visit to United States during which he plans to stress the importance of transatlantic ties and commemorate the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

Mr Vondráček, who will be in the US from July 16 to July 25, said he had been invited to visit the US House of Representatives by his American counterpart, Paul Ryan (Republican).

In March, Mr Ryan had visited the Czech Republic while on vacation, but nonetheless during his semi-official visit addressed the parliament, where he stressed the importance of bilateral ties and solidarity among NATO members.

Poll: Only 53% of Czechs over thirty “satisfied” with their financial situation

Despite rising wages and low unemployment, only 53% of Czechs aged 30 or over are “satisfied” with their financial situation, according to a new STEM / MARK poll commissioned by Globus hypermarkets.

More men than women said they were “satisfied”, at 58% and 48%, respectively. Those figures are about 10 percentage points higher among people of both sexes who have a university degree, the poll found.

The average gross monthly wage in the Czech Republic rose by 8.6% in the first quarter of this year to CZK 30,265. Adjusted for inflation, real wages grew by 6.6% in annual terms.

Weather outlook

Thursday more rain and even thunderstorms are expected in parts of the country, although it should be partly sunny in Prague and much of central Bohemia. Daytime temperatures should be between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.