Czech firms released a smaller volume of pollutants into the environment in 2012 than in 2011, but the quantity of mercury released into the air and water went up, the environmental watchdog Arnica reported on Wednesday. The main polluters are traditionally located in the industrialized regions of Moravia-Silesia, Ustí nad Labem and Central Bohemia. Power generating facilities, mainly plants operated by the state-owned power utility ČEZ continue to be the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, Arnica says. On the other hand the chemical plant Spolana Neratovice tops the list of polluters in the amount of potentially carcinogenic substances released. Overall the amount of carcinogenic substances released decreased by about one fifth compared with 2011.
Trade unions in the health sector have gone on strike alert to draw attention to what they describe as a looming crisis in the health sector and social services. The head of the umbrella organization of health and social services employees Dagmar Zitnikova said many hospitals and spa facilities were now on the brink of bankruptcy and these issues needed to be addressed urgently. She called on parties running in October’s general elections to make public their stand on the matter.
Czech and Israeli entrepreneurs have agreed to cooperate in finding new markets in Africa and Asia, according to the president of the Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce Pavel Smutný. Czech-Israeli business talks took place within President Miloš Zeman’s four-day state visit to Israel. Czech businesses, which export largely to EU member states, are seeking ways to diversify their interests and find new markets in Africa, Asia, China and India. They have criticized the former Czech government for closing down dozens of Czech embassies around the world in order to save money, saying the lack of representation was harming the country’s business interests.
Transparency International have called on the minister of labour and social affairs, František Koníček, to explain his ties to a company based in a tax haven. Mr. Koníček previously headed the state forestry agency Lesy ČR. The corruption watchdog said that while he was no longer active in the Cyprus-based Equity Brokers, his wife and daughter remained on its supervisory board; Transparency International said it owned several other firms that had won public tenders or drawn on EU funds in the Czech Republic. Mr. Koníček, who is standing for President Zeman’s party in elections later this month, said all the companies he was involved with in this country acted legally. Transparency also said that former MP Petr Benda and ODS regional leader Pavel Dlouhý had ties to offshore firms. The organisation said that such companies had won public tenders worth over CZK 150 billion in the Czech Republic in the last five years.
The number of Czech companies registered in tax havens has been steadily increasing during the past decade. Only in the last five years, offshore companies won public tenders in this country worth more than 150 billion crowns, according to analysis by the advocacy group Transparency International and the consulting company Bisnode. On Tuesday, they presented their findings about the links between offshore companies, public tenders and Czech politicians.
Arcelor Mittal Ostrava is to invest one billion crowns into the modernization of its steelworks. The investment should increase the quality of its products, expand the steelworks production capacity and boost its competitiveness. According to the company’s general director Tapas Rajderkara Mittal wants to increase its exports outside of the European Union. Together with its daughter companies Arcelor Mittal employs 7500 people.
The Czech Association of Scouts and Guides has complained about a commercial campaign by the mobile phone operator T Mobile. In the series of video commercials launched in July, the firm pokes fun at the scouting movement whose members are presented as impractical and dull fools running around in the forest with phones and tablets, the association said. The operator has denied the claims, and said they had offered to sponsor the organization. However, the scout association said the firm never delivered on its promise.
A memorandum, released by the advocacy group Amnesty International last week, calls on the Czech Foreign Ministry to improve the process of approving arms deals for local weapons producers. The analysis says that more than 38% of the total weapons exports in 2012 went to countries where human rights are not respected and where the political systems are barely democratic. This, the organization claims, hurts the positive image of the Czech Republic abroad and contributes to atrocities and violence perpetrated in certain countries. RP spoke to Andor
More than a third of all the weapons exports from the Czech Republic last year went to countries which gravely violate human rights, according to a report released by the Czech branch of the advocacy group Amnesty International (AI). The study shows that of the 6.8 billion crown total arms exports, 38.6 percent were sold to countries without a democratically controled of the military, independent courts or police force and with authoritarian style of government. AI included countries such as Yemen, Egypt and Algeria on that list. The percentage of weapons exports to such countries increased by more than 4 percentage points since 2011.
The Czech Republic’s state agencies CzechTrade and CzechInvest are opening new trade missions in Buenos Aires, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Casablanca and Beijing in the coming days, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade said. Before the end of the year, new missions will also open in Turkey, India and Indonesia. In 2014, some five or six trade missions will be established in Africa and Asia. The ministry plans to spend around 200 million crowns on Czech trade missions abroad whose number should increase to between 60 and 70, the spokesman said. The ministry eventually plans to merge the two agencies into one body to support Czech foreign trade and attract investors to the Czech Republic.
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