Czech tourism industry suffered heavier losses in 2021
16:33 Czech hockey team loses to Denmark in first Olympic game
The Czech ice hockey team opened their participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics with a 2:1 defeat against Denmark. The Danes took a two-goal lead in the first half of the match. Captain Roman Červenka scored the only goal for the Czech team in the 24th minute. The Czechs, led by Filip Pešán, will face Switzerland in their second meeting, which will take place on Friday.
4:00 p.m. Koudelka reappointed as head of Czech counterintelligence
The Czech government has reappointed Michal Koudelka as head of the National Counterintelligence Service (BIS), with his official tenure beginning on February 15. Koudelka’s previous term as director of BIS expired last year and his final months in the post were marred by controversy sparked by criticism from President Miloš Zeman. Andrej Babiš’s government attempted to avoid conflict by postponing the appointment of a new, full BRI leader, appointing Koudelka as interim leader ahead of elections won by the opposition.
15:00 Chinese banker admits receiving bribes from Zeman adviser
A Chinese banker has admitted in a documentary series aired in China to accepting bribes from an adviser to Czech President Miloš Zeman in exchange for a large loan to a Chinese energy and financial services company that has invested in the Republic Czech. In the program called “Zero Tolerance”, the banker claimed to have received bribes from the company’s former chairman, Jie Jinging, known in the Czech Republic as an adviser to President Zeman.
13:52 Government approves budget with deficit of CZK 280 billion
The Czech government has unanimously approved its draft state budget for 2022, with a deficit of 280 billion Czech crowns. Revenues are forecast at CZK 1,613 billion, while expenses are forecast at CZK 1,893 billion. The budget will now be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies for approval, with a first reading scheduled for February 18. The budget includes controversial cuts, including to health care and transportation. The new government is trying to bring moderation back to finances, significantly reducing the deficit compared to the previous proposal for 2022 from the ANO-led administration.
10:43 Prague’s tourism industry suffered heavier losses in 2021
The Czech Statistical Office has released tourism statistics for the Czech Republic in 2021. The data shows that the number of visitors to Prague fell by 70% last year compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. However, there has been an 8% increase in the number of tourists. in 2020. A total of 2.4 million visitors arrived in Prague, of which 40% were domestic tourists. Nearly a million of the total number of visitors to the Czech capital last year came in the final quarter of the year, although this was still a 52% drop from 2019.
Ukraine-Russia Czech Foreign Minister concludes visit to Ukraine
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský completed a visit to Ukraine with his Austrian and Slovak counterparts, to express his solidarity with the country in the face of a Russian military build-up on the Ukrainian borders.
Ministers traveled to eastern Ukraine to familiarize themselves with the security situation. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kubela thanked Lipavský “for your timely visit which affirms that Ukraine has true friends by its side in this tense time”.
Olympic Games Ledecká medal ceremony marred by flag incidents
Ester Ledecká cemented her status as one of the Czech Republic’s greatest athletes by winning the snowboard parallel giant slalom yesterday. However, at a medal ceremony held after his victory, confusion arose when organizers placed the Haitian flag next to his name on a placard, instead of the Czech flag.
Later, as the Czech national anthem played to salute Ledecká’s victory, the ceremony turned into a farce. The organizers had the right flag for a mast behind the podium; but the flag clung to the face of the soldier in charge of hoisting it. The soldier responsible for the silver Austrian flag had a similar problem. Ledecká may be on the podium again at this tournament as she defends her Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing in the coming days.
LGBT+ rights ČEZ joins companies offering benefits to LGBT+ couples
Yet a trend is emerging that Czech employers are voluntarily granting LGBT+ couples similar benefits in an effort to promote greater equality. Energy company ČEZ has now announced that a new diversity and inclusion policy will allow LGBT+ couples to take paid or unpaid leave in the same circumstances as married couples. The energy giant is following other big employers, including Vodafone and Accenture, in taking independent steps to allow the same benefits to couples of all kinds.
Politics The draft budget criticized by the opposition
The Czech government’s draft budget for 2022 has been criticized by opposition parties. Former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the budget cuts would be felt by the whole population, as well as wider economic ramifications. Tomio Okamura, leader of the eurosceptic Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party, said he would look for other ways to save money than cutting health budgets and scrapping travel cuts for students and the elderly.
Babiš also criticized planned budget cuts in the health department, which led to a strike by medical unions yesterday. “If they are really planning cuts to health and public health offices after two years of Covid-19, I find that unprecedented and incomprehensible,” Babiš said.
Business Launch of the first blank check company in the CEE region in Prague
Czech investment banking group WOOD & Company plans to raise up to CZK 1 billion to create what would be Central Europe’s first blank check company, or Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). Wood & Co. said yesterday it had received regulatory approval for the project and that SPAC subscriptions would run from February 10 to April 1.
SPAC will seek capital for the acquisition of target companies in the technology, e-commerce and machinery sectors, all of which are booming in the Czech Republic. SPACs are a popular way to bring growing companies to the stock market.