Among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic enjoys the reputation of a safe haven for cannabis users, with more than half of the country’s adult population admitting to have used the drug. But it was only this past weekend that Prague hosted its first international hemp fair.
A month ahead of local elections, Prague officials have revived efforts to legalize prostitution. City Hall has come up with a bill that would grant prostitutes the status of self-employed workers, and give the authorities the power to regulate the oldest profession. But passing the bill would require the Czech Republic to pull out of a convention on human trafficking, a move rejected by MPs in the past.
A Czech company has come up with a novel method of protection against being overcharged by a taxi driver, an experience common to visitors to the Czech Republic. The firm Et netera has created a mobile phone application that uses a global positioning system to allow passengers to measure the distance travelled and calculate the correct fare. It is offering the system to the authorities in Prague, who have been taking measures to combat overcharging by the city’s taxi drivers for some years.
This Thursday will see the launch of the 13th annual Collectors’ Fair in Prague’s Letňany, the largest such event in Central and Eastern Europe. Over three days an estimated 12,000 visitors will be able to view exhibits and items from traditional coins and stamps to objects more curious, such as the largest collection of air sickness bags or a new comic book stamp to be issued by Czech Post.
The Czech online auction website Aukro has said it has blocked the account of a seller suspected of having ripped off clients for around half a million crowns (the equivalent of around 26,000 US dollars) by not delivering promised goods. These reportedly included handbags, watches and perfumes. Clients, the auction website says, are compensated for damages of up to 20,000 crowns; in this case the forty people or so who dealt with the questionable seller will be fully refunded; Aukro has not ruled out that additional cases may still emerge. The site, which has 1.8 million registered users in the Czech Republic, is also communicating with the police over the matter.
The volume of foreign investments in the Czech Republic dropped by around one third in the first half of 2010, compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the state CzechInvest agency on Thursday. In the first six months of this year, foreign companies invested around 7 billion crowns, or nearly 360 million US dollars, compared to 10 billion in the same period a year earlier. A CzechInvest spokeswoman said foreign firms are most frequently investing in IT and software development. Some 4,500 jobs are expected to stem from these investments.
Amnesty International has put some of the spotlight on the Czech Republic in a report about the situation in conflict ridden Yemen. The international human rights watchdog organization says that Czech arms are being shipped to a country where opponents of the local government are being tortured or disappear for long periods into detention or are executed.
Czech companies are becoming even worse at paying their bills on time due to the economic crisis, according to a survey of more than 22,000 firms. The survey by the company ČSOB Factoring shows that firms on average pay bills 19 days after the due date. That means that the average time for payment to be made after the bill is sent has risen to 72 days from 59 days in 2008. The economic crisis is put down to the continuing caution caused by the economic crisis. In some sectors, however, the payments record is much better than average. This is for example the case of the auto sector where bills are on average paid within 40 days.
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