The outgoing government of Vladimir Spidla on Wednesday approved an outline of next year's state budget, including the revenues and expenditures of individual ministries, but failed to agree on the size of the public finances deficit. Work on finalizing the 2005 state budget proposal has thus been left to the new Cabinet. The approval of basic parameters should enable individual ministers to draft budget proposals for their respective ministries, which will also be handed over to their successors in Cabinet. The fact that the emerging cabinet is a continuation of the three-party governing coalition should enable a fairly smooth transition.
The government on Wednesday also rejected a Senate bill that would introduce tuition fees at Czech state universities. The bill would transform universities into incorporated companies that provide education and applied research. They would also be freed of paying revenue taxes. The bill was drafted and approved by the Senate in response to growing dissatisfaction on the part of teachers and students regarding poor financing of universities. The strongest party in government, the Social Democrats, is strictly against the idea of tuition fees on the grounds that they would limit access to higher education for socially weaker students. The bill will now go to the Lower House.
The Czech Republic has managed to achieve public hygiene standards equal to those of the European Union in just two years, according to the country's chief public health officer Michal Vit. In two years, we have done what the Netherlands did in seven, Mr. Vit told journalists in Prague on Wednesday. The process involved the approval of new legislation and new regulations introduced at shops, eateries and catering services across the country. It also entailed better consumer protection and the introduction of a central information system for nutrition hygiene, drinking water safety and infectious diseases, among other things.
A judge who was to decide whether to re-open the case against the country's most notorious criminal Jiri Kajinek has postponed the hearing until September, because a key witness failed to show up. Kajinek is serving a life sentence for two murders, which he claims not to have committed. His lawyer now says she has fresh evidence which should help clear Kajinek of both crimes. The new evidence allegedly points to the fact that Kajinek may have been framed.
A ten year old boy has had to undergo surgery after being badly mauled by a Shepard dog. The child was rushed to hospital with severe face injuries after the dog, which belonged to his grandmother attacked him in the family home. It is not clear what led to the attack, but family members say it is possible that the boy touched the dog's injured eye, provoking the onslaught. The dog, which the boy had known all his life and grown up with, is now under observation but is showing no signs of aggression.
Thursday is expected to be another sweltering hot day with temperatures between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius.
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