The country’s finance minister, Eduard Janota, has said that this year’s state budget deficit could go as high as 200 billion crowns, as a result of the economic crisis. He made the statement on Sunday on a debate programme on Czech TV, saying it was difficult to assess how matters will develop. He did point out that the size of the deficit could negatively influence the Czech Republic’s international rating. The 2009 budget was approved ahead of the crisis last November, proposing a deficit of 38.1 billion crowns, which was later raised to 52.2. At the end of November this year, the state was operating with the deficit already at 175 billion.
In related news, the finance minister has said if he stays on in his post he will come forward with a new savings measures package early next year. He is currently weighing the decision to resign, after the law on the state budget for 2010 was substantially changed by the country’s leftist parties, the Social Democrats and the Communists, this week. They deepened the proposed deficit for next year by an additional 12 billion crowns. Mr Janota is expected to reach a decision over whether to step down, on Monday.
Both units at the Temelín nuclear power plant have shut down since Saturday over planned tests, plant spokesman Marek Sviták has said. Power supplies are to resume on Monday. One unit had to be disconnected from the grid earlier than planned due to modifications to the piping system concerning oil regulation, while a regulatory valve is yet to be repaired in the second block. Test dates are specified by the State Authority for Nuclear Safety on the basis of recommendations by the fuel supplier; Temelin's unit one was last disconnected from the power grid in November.
Two people – an 85-year-old man and his son - died in Prague’s Kunratice area on Saturday when a fire gutted their home. Another incident on the same day saw an 88-year-old woman die when her apartment in a pensioners’ home in Prague 6 caught fire. The police say a lit cigarette was the cause.
A civic association known as Denemark has reached agreement with the town of Kutná Hora on the building of a new pet cemetery. The idea for such grounds in the historic town had been weighed by organisers for roughly ten years, but until now proper grounds for the site were not available. A representative pointed out that some 8,000 Kutná Hora residents live in pre-fabricated apartments and had no place to bury beloved family pets. The cemetery should go into operation next March.
A survey conducted by the Education Ministry has suggested that a majority of Czech students are satisfied with the qualiy of Czech universitys and their professors. Some 11,000 students responded in the survey, ČTK reported - 64 percent of them saying they considered Czech universities comparable to other European ones, while 45 percent said they were comparable to those in the US. students from well-off families study abroad three times more often than those from low-income families. Almost 90 percent of respondents said their schools enjoyed a good reputation.
Retailers in the Czech Republic have stepped up sales on items two weeks ahead of Christmas, in a bid to get Czech consumers to spend more during the holiday season (many of whom, the site reported, had said earlier they would spend less this year, supposedly in light of the economic crisis). Aktuálně.cz reported that various stone & mortar retailers had cut prices by tens of percent, as had internet retailers.
Czech hockey forward Patrik Eliáš has become only the seventh Czech in NHL history to score 300 career goals. Eliáš, who plays for New Jersey, scored twice on Saturday in the Devils’ 4:1 win over Philadelphia. His overall tally is now 301.
In other action Radim Vrbata and Robert Lang scored 95 seconds apart for Phoenix on Saturday, seeing Phoenix defeat San Jose 2:1.
In football, Czech goalie Petr Čech’s Chelsea tied 3:3 on Saturday with Everton. Čech suffered an own-goal in the game, when a shot hit the post and deflected over the line off of his back. Chelsea are currently 1st place in the league, three points ahead of Manchester United.
Cool weather is expected into the new week. Monday should be cloudy and temperatures are expected to remain below zero, at around -2 degrees Celsius.