The new coalition government is reviewing its policy agenda with regard to excessive spending. At a meeting of economic ministers on Wednesday, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka urged his colleagues to slash a number of proposals which would lead to further spending. Disputes are allegedly underway over eight points in the government's agenda. The deputy Prime Minister in charge of the economy Martin Jahn told the media that the government intended to finance many of the measures stemming from its policy agenda from the off-budget Housing Development Fund. In this way, ministers could spend more than one billion crowns without increasing the budget deficit. The new coalition government, headed by Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, is expected to ask Parliament for a vote of confidence on August 24th.
The new Health Minister Milada Emmerova wants to introduce a reliable registration system which would provide a complete record of treatment received for every patient over 18. The documentation would register each visit to a GP or specialist with details of treatment received and medicaments prescribed. The minister claims that this should prevent, among other things, patients being prescribed medicaments which should not be used together. Such a system is already being used in the case of child patients, giving doctors instant access to the childhood ailments, vaccinations and illnesses of individual patients.
Czech police have confirmed that a wig, pistol and hand grenade believed to have been discarded by the man responsible for last week's casino bombing in Prague — or an accomplice — were recovered from an empty building near the scene of the attack, which left 18 bystanders wounded. Police now say at least two men carried out the August 1st attack, the intended target of which, Israeli casino owner Assaf Abutbul, escaped unharmed. Mr Abutbul's father, an alleged underworld boss in Israel, was shot dead after leaving the same Prague casino in August 2002, and police say the attack stems from an unresolved dispute between rival Israeli business groups.
Some 100 days after the "big bang" expansion of the European Union on the first of May from 15 to 25 member states, British and Irish officials have released data confirming that fears of an onslaught of jobseekers from the relatively poor accession countries were unfounded. Along with Sweden, the U.K. and Ireland were the only old EU members fully open to jobseekers from the new member states. Fewer than 8,200 people from countries joined Britain's work registry in May and June, according to government figures, and 14,000 people from the accession states already living there legalised their status. Ireland saw a far greater per-capita increase with almost 23,000 people from the member states seeking employment there in the past three months, or around 10 times the number of work permits issued to people from the same countries in the first four months of 2004, reports Ireland online.
Star Czech football midfielder Pavel Nedved has not yet recovered from a knee injury he suffered in the semi-final of the Euro 2004 championship in July. Mr Nedved, who plays for Italy's Juventus Turin, will therefore be unable to help his side in an upcoming qualification game for the Champions League. Meanwhile, Czech striker, Milan Baros, is not likely to start in his side's bid against Austria's AK Graz in a qualification game for the Champions League on Tuesday. Baros, who plays for Liverpool, scored the most goals at Euro 2004, but is reportedly being overshadowed by newly-acquired striker Djibril Cisse.
The Czech Republic is preparing to seek the extradition of former Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny, from his home in the Bahamas. Until now, extradition had not been an option since the Czech Republic and the Bahamas do not enjoy diplomatic ties. However, on Monday the director for international affairs of the Supreme State Attorney's Office, Svetlana Klouckova, revealed that the office had uncovered a treaty between the Bahamas and former Czechoslovakia dating back to 1925. The 79-year-old treaty allegedly outlines strict terms for the extradition of criminals. Should Mr Kozeny, who now has Irish citizenship, be released to Czech authorities on the basis of the treaty, he will be tried in the Czech Republic for large-scale fraud. An international warrant for his arrest was first issued in February this year.
The Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs has reported that the Czech unemployment level in July rose from 9.9 to 10.1 percent, meaning that some 532, 000 people at the end of the month were officially without work. But, say some Czech economists the labour market is slowly but surely improving - as higher unemployment numbers for July were originally expected. Meanwhile, new tabulation methods used by the majority of EU states, now being adopted by the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, ranks Czech unemployment lower at 9.2 percent.
Finance Ministry spokesman Marek Zeman has said that the results of an
audit of the Czech Republic's readiness to draw money from EU funds
will be available in October. On the basis of the results the Finance
Ministry will then check each programme separately and decide whether
the application for the funds can be sent. Some sources said last week
that the Czech Republic was threatened with the suspension of payments
from EU funds, if the results of the audit were as bad as interim
results had suggested.
On August 4th the European Commission suspended the payment of some 2 billion crowns to the Czech Republic from the pre-accession Phare fund.
Spokeswoman for the EC representation in the Czech Republic Katharina von Schnurbein said the Czech Republic failed to supply all required information.
If the results of the audit prove poor, Brussels could react by suspending advance and further payments, some sources have told the country's news agency CTK. However, the Finance Ministry has denied this.
Former Communist Party functionary Karel Hoffmann has begun serving a four-year sentence at Prague's Pankrac prison, after being found guilty of disrupting Czech Radio broadcasts during the Soviet-led invasion of August 1968. On Sunday, President Vaclav Klaus said he was considering granting a pardon to Mr Hoffmann, who is 80 years old and in poor health. Mr Klaus said it would be strange to send someone to prison 36 years after they had broken the law on telecommunications. Karel Hoffmann remains the only senior communist to have been sentenced in connection with the events of 1968.