The Czech GDP fell by 0.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, and by 1.3 percent year-on-year, the Czech Statistical Office confirmed on Friday. This means the Czech economy has been in recession since the end of last year, which some analysts say equates them to the most indebted south European countries like Greece and Spain.
The Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský is planning to lodge a legal complaint against the system of checks for the unemployed called DONEZ, which will come into effect starting January. DONEZ requires people registered as unemployed to appear at public administration centers a few times a week. The measure is meant to prevent people who receive unemployment benefits from working illegally. Mr Varvařovský believes this constitutes an excessive encroachment on human dignity.
In Business News this week: Czech real wages continue to fall; few Czechs plan to join a new pension system; Qatar Airways and Korean Air are interested in acquiring Czech Airlines; apartment prices expected to decrease next year; Czech spas going through hard times, and Czech architects win competition to build monument to victims of slavery in Senegal.
Few of the government’s social reforms have aroused as much opposition as the controversial S-Card system; a new electronic system streamlining social and welfare benefit payments which is to come into force in January. In the face of growing opposition from left-wing parties, the National Disability Council and even the Ombudsman, the centre-right government has now promised to amend the law which would make S-Card payments mandatory for everyone concerned.
The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, will on Wednesday present the cabinet with information on which international airlines have expressed interest in taking over Czech Airlines, or ČSA. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday that the information would only concern possible interest in taking part in the privatisation of the Czech national carrier; price and other aspects would be addressed in a future phase of the process. A previous attempt to sell off ČSA in 2009 was not successful.
Speaking in Brussels, the Czech minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, said on Tuesday that the Czech Republic would only agree to the creation of a European Union banking supervisory body if the bloc granted extra powers to national regulators. Mr. Kalousek said Prague wanted a commitment that the Czech National Bank would have the final authority in the case that a daughter company of an international bank was transformed into a branch, as branches do not come under national regulators. He pointed out that over 90 of the Czech banking sector was owned by the daughter companies of banks based in the eurozone.
The project to build two new reactors at South Bohemia’s Temelín nuclear power plant represents a huge investment. But the massive project may never get off the ground, not least if the government reassess issues surrounding the project’s financing as well as continuing uncertainty on the energy market.
According to Czech Radio’s Regina, Prague residents may have to pay more next year for garbage removal: City Hall has not yet addressed the issue publically, but several towns are planning hikes. Funds have not been enough in the long term – estimates suggest that roughly half billion crowns are needed.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Prague on Monday, on the first leg of a European tour. At meetings with Czech officials, Secretary Clinton made a pitch for the US firm Westinghouse, which is in competition with a Russian-led consortium for a multi-billion-dollar Czech nuclear project. She says the US bid offers the best technology and highest security – and would reduce the Czech Republic’s dependence on Russian energy.
The Czech government plans to keep community service for the unemployed
which was overturned last week by the country’s Constitutional Court, the
minister of labour and social affairs, Ludmila Müllerová said on Czech TV
on Sunday. To accommodate the objections of the court, the system might
undergo some minor changes, Ms Müllerová said. These could include the
prolongation of period after which the jobless are required to start
community service, and even a possibility of some salary being paid to
those who take part in the programme.
The Constitutional Court last week said the free yet compulsory community service for the unemployed, introduced by the Nečas government last year, was humiliating, in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and also contradicted a ban on forced labour.
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Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
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