September 1st meant "back to school" for 1.4 million Czech pupils, after their two-month summer holiday. This year some 88,500 entered the first grade, while around 139,000 students began high school. Education Minister Petra Buzkova paid a visit to a primary school in the Central Bohemian town of Melnik, while Czech president Vaclav Klaus visited two schools in the South Bohemian town of Pisek.
The Czech government has approved a bankruptcy bill that should facilitate bankruptcies and increase creditors' powers. The Czech Republic has long been criticised for its existing bankruptcy legislation with proceedings dragging on for years and creditors in the end receiving only 17 percent of their claims, the lowest percentage in the EU. Bankruptcies in the Czech Republic by far exceed settlement with creditors. Some 4,000 petitions for bankruptcy are filed every year in the Czech Republic, while the cases of settlement number just several dozen.
The last two Jas-39 Gripen supersonic fighter jets ordered by the Czech government from Sweden have arrived in the Czech Republic, completing the replacement of the country's ageing fleet of Soviet MiGs. The Gripens will be leased for 10 years for almost 20 billion crowns (850 million dollars), after which the country has an option to buy them or return them to Sweden. The Czech Republic is the first NATO country to employ Gripens in its air-force. Hungary will start using them next year. Poland opted for US F-16s and Slovakia will modernise Russian-made MiG-29s.
The famous astronomical clock on Prague's Old Town Square will be out of order for a couple of months. From September to mid-November experts will carry out maintenance work on the clockwork, dial and the decorative wooden statues. The cost of the repair work is estimated at 2.5 million crowns (100,000 dollars). The clock was made in the 15th century by clockmakers Mikulas of Kadan and Hanus of Ruze.
The Finance Ministry has announced that government ministers are demanding 61 billion crowns (2.5 billion dollars) more than has been approved in the state budget proposal for 2006. In July the cabinet approved a draft budget with a deficit of 76.4 billion crowns. The cabinet is expected to approve the state budget bill for 2006 in September. After that, the bill will go to the lower house of parliament.
The leading American scholar of Czech theatre, Professor Emeritus of Theatre at the University at Albany, Jarka Burian, has died at the age of 78 in the United States. Jarka Burian was born in 1927 to a Czech family living in New York. He served at the University of Albany from 1955 to 1993, and also taught at Cornell, Berkeley and a number of other universities. He published many books on Czech theatre. His work "Modern Czech Theatre: Reflector and Conscience of a Nation", published in 2000, was described as the definitive historical and critical study of Czech theatre of the last century."
Representatives of the main political parties have agreed to vote for a reserve pension fund ahead of next year's elections. The fund is aimed at covering a future shortfall in pension costs caused by the aging population and low birth rate. There was also agreement to preserve the current continual system of pension funding and on the need to gradually increase the age of retirement. However, major differences remain over how much of the pension should be guaranteed by the state.
The minister of education, Petra Buzkova, says she is leaving politics and will not stand for the Social Democrats in elections next summer. She made the announcement in an interview in Tuesday's Pravo. Ms Buzkova, who is 39, has been one of the country's most popular politicians in recent years. She was appointed education minister, her first cabinet post, in July 2002.
An exercise aimed at dealing with the possible consequences of a terrorist bombing on the Prague Metro system is to be held next month, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. Around 120 people will play distressed and injured passengers in the exercise, which will take place in the early hours of Friday September 23rd.
The former head of Prague's Jewish Community Tomas Jelinek is being investigated for alleged breach of trust and abuse of personal data. A police spokesperson told the CTK news agency he was suspected of making an unauthorised payment of half a million crowns and providing members' personal data to two companies. For his part, Mr Jelinek says he is innocent and that the cases are linked to a power struggle within the Jewish Community which saw him ousted last year.