Daily news summary Daily news summary

23-01-2020

Czechia drops to 44th spot on TI’s corruption perception rankings

The Czech Republic has significantly worsened its standing in watchdog Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index for 2019.

Under TI’s criteria, the country picked up 56 points compared to 59 in 2018, falling from 38th to 44th spot in the ranking of 180 countries. In Europe, the Czech Republic dropped to 19th spot from last years’ 16th, lagging behind the EU average by eight points.

According to Transparency International, the drop is caused by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ alleged conflict of interest stemming from the multi-billion crown agro-chemical empire Agrofert he owned and later placed in trust funds and EU subsidies to the said holding.

Transparency International’s annual Index has rated countries by perceived levels of corruption since 1995 on a scale of 0 to 2100, with 0 being very corrupt and 100 being very clean.

E-motorway vignette order officially cancelled, Czech trade minister dismissed

A controversial order for the electronic motorway vignette in the Czech Republic has been officially cancelled, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček, announced on Thursday.

The 400 million crown contract, deemed overpriced by experts, had been awarded to Asseco Central without a tender.

Vladimír Kremlík was also formally dismissed from his post as Ministry of Transport, effective on Thursday, over the matter.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Monday he was considering merging the ministries of Transport and Industry and Trade. For the moment, Havlíček is in charge of the portfolio.

Czech farmers can again apply to use Stutox II poison against voles

Czech agricultural authorities plan to give permits to farmers to use Stutox II, a rat poison, to combat an infestation of voles in fields, orchards, meadows and vineyards.

Last summer, the Ministry of Agriculture put a ban on the poison’s blanket use after the Ministry of Environment warned it poses a threat to birds and other animals, including pets.

Now, only areas with five times the so-called harmful threshold of voles can apply for permits to use Stutox II. The authorities expect the first permits will be issued by late February.

China’s Hainan Airlines stops Beijing-Prague direct flights

China’s Hainan Airlines is halting regular direct flights from Beijing to Prague starting in March, Czech Foreign Ministry officials have confirmed.

Hainan Airlines gave no reason for the disruption. But bilateral relations have cooled significantly in recent months following a series of diplomatic spats.

Earlier in January, Prague signed a sister city agreement with the Taiwanese capital Taipei – after having scrapped one with Beijing in a dispute over a clause therein regarding the “One China” policy in October.

President Miloš Zeman, who has pushed for closer ties with Beijing, says he will not attend China's “17+1” summit being in April unless the country is ready to sign new deals with Czech entrepreneurs on specific projects.

Fire at Prague’s Barrandov Studio warehouse under investigation

Firefighters are investigating the cause of a blaze that broke out on Wednesday afternoon at a warehouse used by Prague’s famous film studio Barrandov.

It took six crews to extinguish the fire, which consumed some set decorations and construction materials. The full extent of the damage has not yet been reported.

Škoda Auto unions fear Fabia production may partly move to Seat

Škoda Auto unions fear partial production of the Fabia model could shift to Seat, a Spanish subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, with the departure of that company’s CEO, Luca de Meo.

Production of the Superb model in the Czech Republic is also still in jeopardy, Škoda trade union head Jaroslav Povšík is quoted as in the union weekly, saying it may move to Turkey.

Škoda Auto is the biggest Czech car producer and country’s top exporter. It raised its domestic production by 2.5 percent to 670,156 cars in the first nine months of 2019.

Czech developer PPF to build 1,500 flats in Moscow

Moscow authorities have given PPF Group, controlled by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, permission to build 1,500 flats in the Russian capital.

Separately, PPF is moving ahead with its mixed-use Comcity project in south-west Moscow, which will include two office buildings and a four-star Novotel hotel.

PPF now has six real estate projects underway or completed in Russia, including the Metropolis Administration Center and the South Gate Industrial Park in Moscow.

Kvitová, Plíšková through to third round at Australian Open

The Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitová advanced to the third round of Australian Open, beating Paula Badosa of Spain 7-5, 7-5. The seventh-seeded Czech, who lost last year’s final to Osaka, will next face Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova for a place in the fourth round.

Second-seeded Karolína Plíšková confirmed her strong recent form by advancing to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Laura Siegmund of Germany.

Another Czech, Karolína Muchová, lost in her second round match against Catherine Bellis of the U.S. 6-4, 6-4.

Weather

Friday should be cool and cloudy with occaisional freezing rain or light snowfall. Average daily highs should range from 2 to 5 degrees Celsius.

23-01-2020