Forced administration of the country's largest state-owned health insurance company VZP could be terminated by May 1st. Health Minister David Rath said in a televised debate Sunday that this was realistic on condition that the company's insurance plan was completed by that date so as to prevent funds being siphoned off. The minister said that when forced administration ended the insurance company's close to 14 billion crown debt would have been reduced to 5 billion.
As the waters receded individual municipalities started assessing the degree of flood damage. The governor of south Moravia Stanislav Juranek has made a preliminary damage estimate at one billion crowns. The Czech Culture Ministry said the estimated damage to national monuments would amount to approximately 10 million crowns. The Terezin Memorial, the site of a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War, was damaged in the floods as were several churches, castles and chateaux.
Milan Stech has been re-elected head of the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, the country's largest trade union organization representing 33 associations and more than 600,000 members. One of the three deputy posts went to Marcela Kubinkova. She is the first woman ever to be elected to one of the top posts in the confederation.
The Health Ministry has prepared a new directive that would make medicines available outside pharmacies. According to the ministry the directive is to help people who live far from a pharmacy, but pharmacists feel threatened by the decision. The minister lowered their profit margin in the beginning of this year, a move that many said would lead them into bankruptcy.
The Czech Republic and four other EU member states face legal action by the EC over children's nappies. The European Commission has warned the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and Malta that they are violating EU rules by allowing nappies to be sold at lowered value added tax levels. Earlier this year, EU finance ministers agreed to extend an agreement by five years which allows VAT on selected goods and services in several member states to be kept lower than the minimum rate of 15 percent. Nappies are not included. The Commission will give the five countries two months to respond before a second warning is issued. Any country failing to heed the second and final warning will face the European Court of Justice.
Clean up work is underway in many parts of the Czech Republic following a week of heavy flooding. As the waters recede individual municipalities are assessing the degree of flood damage. Among the first to make known a specific figure is the culture ministry which said on Saturday that the estimated damage to national monuments would amount to approximately 10 million crowns. The Terezin Memorial, the site of a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War, was damaged in the floods as were several churches, castles and chateaux.
Health Minister David Rath has asked for a 2.7 billion crown loan for the country's state run health insurance company VZP. The money is to help tide over the ailing company and enable it to pay doctors on time. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who would have to approve the loan, has said he is not inclined to support such a solution and has serious doubts regarding the company's ability to pay it back.
The Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has slammed right wing reforms as a recipe for economic and social disaster. Speaking at an economic forum in Prague, Mr. Paroubek said that a flat tax and other reform plans presented by his party's main rivals in the June general elections -the Civic Democrats - would create a state of egoists. The prime minister whose party has been trailing several points behind the centre right Civic Democrats in opinion surveys, promised voters that he would not enter into a coalition with the Communists, saying that to implement their policy programme would lead the country into an economic crisis.
Two more cases of bird flu have been detected in the Czech Republic, bringing the overall number to ten. All of the infected birds are swans found in the vicinity of Ceske Budejovice, in southern Bohemia. The last two cases were found on the bank of the Vltava river, close to where one of the previous infected birds was discovered. Protective measures are already in effect in the area. They include a ban on the transport of birds, poultry products and eggs, the use of disinfectants and a ban on outdoor breeding.
In ice hockey action, Czech forward Jan Bulis scored his 19th goal this season for the Montreal Canadiens in their eighth straight win. On Thursday the Habs downed Ottawa 5-2; the Senators were without their high-profile Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek. Montreal is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, vying for one of four remaining play-off spots.