Today’s headlines: Daily news updates for Czechia

LEGAL Czech judiciary grossly underpaid, court presidents say

The presidents of the Czech judiciary have said the national judiciary faces a collapse, as it has long been underfunded. In a statement to the Czech Supreme Court, she said salaries for court employees were “desperately low” despite repeated government promises to raise them, reported.

“Gross starting salaries between 20,000 and 23,000 CZK are not only undignified, but more importantly, they prevent the courts from securing their staff. The average salary in the judiciary is around 10,000 CZK lower than in the public sector “, said the judges. representatives complained.

According to the presidents, lowering wages can save the state money, but will have undesirable side effects in terms of efficiency and output.

“The lack of [good-]quality staff will be reflected not only in the length of proceedings and the subsequent increase in the level of compensation for delay, but also in the security risks and the overall deterioration in the protection of the rights and freedoms of the inhabitants of this country”, have concluded the presidents of the courts.

HEALTH Doctors want higher prices for medical services

The Czech Medical Chamber (CLK) disagrees with the government’s bill that grants healthcare institutions an 8% year-on-year increase in reimbursements from insurance companies, instead insisting on a 13% increase %, wrote the president of the CLK, Milan Kubek, in a letter. to Prime Minister Petr Fiala, according to EuroZprá

Healthcare workers, outpatient specialists and hospitals are all having to contend with rising prices for goods and services, he wrote. This therefore makes the proposed 8% increase in reimbursements insufficient.

“Regarding the annual inflation rate of 17%, even private doctors cannot ignore the justified demand… from healthcare personnel for a 15% increase in basic salary,” Kubek said.

SECURITY Czech counterintelligence: China a real threat

According to the Czech Security Information Service (BRI), China poses an increasingly complex intelligence threat,” writes ČTK. safety report.

This may explain the operations of two “unofficial police stations” in Prague, which could be “an attempt to take control of their [China’s] own diaspora in the Czech Republic,” Ladislav Šticha, spokesperson for BIS counterintelligence, noted in Deník N. Representatives of these stations deny any malicious activity.

The BRI warns against Chinese acquisitions of Czech companies and efforts to shift production to China to protect sensitive technology and data. Prime Minister Petr Fiala today thanked the work of the BRI in its threat detection activities.

PRAGUE The first stage of the Barrandov Bridge repair is complete

The first stage of the reconstruction of Prague’s Barrandov Bridge, which began in mid-May, has been completed. Drivers can once again access the bridge from all directions. Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr tweeted that apart from minor work to be done on the northern part of the bridge, the “reconstruction of the century” has completed its first stage.

“The Barrandovský bridge is reopened. We have successfully completed the first stage of the reconstruction of the century – after 40 years of operation, the Barrandovský most has finally received its first proper repair and you can ride on the bridge again. Barrandovský most in all directions.” Scheinherr wrote on Twitter.

CORRUPTION Subsidy fraud case against former Czech PM resumes today

The Stork’s Nest (Čapí hnízdo) hearing resumed on Monday morning. The case will continue in Prague City Court and Agrofert’s chief financial officer, Petra Procházková, is due to testify today.

The outcome of the subsidy fraud case against former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his assistant Jana Nagyová aims to determine three things: whether ownership of the farm at the time the subsidies were received; whether the farming operation was a small business eligible for a subsidy; and whether it was linked to the former Prime Minister’s Aagrofert assets.

Babiš is accused of participating in EU grant fraud for his role in the Čapí hnízdo case in 2007. His former adviser Jana Nagyová is meanwhile accused of grant fraud and harming the financial interests of the European Union.

ECONOMY Inflation in the Czech Republic among the highest in the EU

Czechia’s year-on-year inflation of 18% in September was nearly the highest rate in the entire bloc. Only the Baltic states and Hungary posted higher inflation figures, as ČTK reports. The average annual inflation for the euro zone as a whole was 10%. In January 2022, it was significantly lower, at 5.1%. Of all the Visegrad Group, Slovakia had the lowest inflation rate, at 14.2%.

To respond to the worsening situation, the European Central Bank will likely raise the base interest rate in the euro zone, now at 1.25%, at its monetary meeting in two weeks.

IMMIGRATION Slovak border controls will continue

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said controls at Czechia’s borders with Slovakia would continue after October 28. The border control measures, which had been imposed on September 29, were introduced to stem the wave of illegal refugees entering Czechia – usually passing through the Balkans and Western Europe.

Rakušan noted that the government has the option to extend the deadline for another month, until November 28. He did not rule out the possibility that border controls would continue beyond that, reports

The number of refugees entering the EU illegally increased by 70% year-on-year from January 2022 to the end of September.

ECONOMY The Czech-German Economic Forum takes place today

Representatives of Czech and German companies will meet today at the Czech-German Economic Forum in Prague, reports ČTK. The main theme will be the transformation of energy, industry and foreign trade.

Czech Industry and Trade Minister Josef Síkela will also attend the conference. Ministers will discuss Europe’s response to high energy prices and how to help businesses during this difficult time.

This comes amid an 18% year-on-year inflation in Czechia in September. Natural gas prices in the country rose seismically by 85.9% year-on-year, according to September data from the Czech Statistical Office.

Other topics will include digitalization, supply chains and sustainability.

Berta D. Wells