The Czech finance minister, Eduard Janota, has designated the year 2015 as the earliest possible date for the adoption of the euro. Mr Janota told Czech TV on Sunday that the Czech Republic would first have to lower the deficit of public finances below 3 percent of the country’s GDP by 2013. That would involve adopting a number of cost-cutting measures as well as changing the structure of the state budget. According to estimates by the Finance Ministry, the state budget deficit should this year drop to 5.3 percent of the GDP; last year, it reached 6.6 percent of the gross domestic product.
In related news, Finance Minister Eduard Janota said on Sunday the development of the state budget met expectations in the first two months of 2010. Mr Janota told Czech TV it was too early to make draw any conclusions but that available data do not suggest any serious problems should occur. The only issue, according to the Czech finance minister, is the decreasing revenues from social insurance, undermined by growing unemployment. By the end of February, the deficit of the state budged was 10.6 billion crowns, while the overall deficit of Czech public finances in 2010 is expected to reach some 160 billion crowns, or more than 8.6 billion US dollars.
The King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni, arrived in Prague on Sunday for a private visit, the news agency ČTK reported quoting unofficial sources. During his week-long visit, the Cambodian head of state is scheduled to meet Czech President Václav Klaus, and receive an honorary degree at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts.
The Cambodian king lived in Prague between 1962 and 1975, and has called the Czech Republic his second home. He came to the Czech capital as a nine-year-old to study ballet, and speaks fluent Czech. During his last visit to Prague in 2006, he became the first royal to be awarded the freedom of the city.
An institute for disabled children in Brno, southern Moravia, is facing allegations of abuse. 22 clients of the Kociánka social care institute for disabled youth filed a petition last week, accusing the management of limiting visiting hours, prohibiting the clients from leaving the premises, and in one instance, of beating a client suffering an epileptic fit. The petitioners also complain about obsolete methods used by the staff. While the institute’s management rejected any such allegations, the Czech labour and social affairs ministry said it would investigate the issue.
The Communist Youth Union, a small far-left group whose ban was recently overturned by a court, has officially resumed its activities, the ČTK news agency reported. The group held its re-constituent convention in Prague on Saturday, two months after a local court overturned a ban imposed on the group by the Czech Interior Ministry. Members of the Communist Youth Union said the group’s return was “a great victory for the communist movement in the Czech Republic”.
The Communist Youth Union formed in the early 1990s; by 2003 its agenda became so radical that the parliamentary Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia distanced itself from the group. The union openly called, among other things, for the removal of private ownership through revolutionary means. It was banned by the Czech Interior Ministry in 2006 but a court in Prague lifted the ban in January this year.
Strong winds and snow caused problems on roads in many parts of the country over the weekend. Northern Bohemia saw up to 25 cm of fresh snow on Saturday, and it’s still snowing there. In eastern Bohemia, strong winds created snowdrifts on a number of roads, some of which had to be closed for traffic. Meteorologists warn that these conditions will continue for the rest of the weekend and snowdrifts are likely to appear on roads all over the country. Fresh snow has also complicated traffic in southern Bohemia and southern Moravia. On Sunday night, ice is expected to form on roads across the Czech Republic as temperatures will fall below zero.
A gay and lesbian NGO from Brno petitioned the minister of human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, asking him to support adoption rights for gays and lesbians, the ČTK news agency reported on Sunday. The STUD association believes that the current arrangement, which only allows married couples to adopt children, is not fair. Some 2,000 people signed the petition. Minister Kocáb had earlier suggested this right be extended to include adoptions by individual foster parents.
Thousands of households in the north Moravian town of Havířov were left without electricity on Sunday due to a fire in a local power sub-station. Firemen managed to get the fire under control by Sunday evening but the distribution company had to shut it down completely. A spokeswoman for the regional power distributor, ČEZ, said electricity supplies into town centre should resume by 8 PM was unable to specify when power would be again supplied to the suburbs.
Loans provided by Czech building societies in the first two months of 2010 rose by 5 percent year-on-.year, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. These financial institutions lent some 8.3 billion crowns, or nearly 550 million US dollars, in January and February. Throughout 2009, interest in loans from building societies was decreasing. The surge in the first two months of 2010 was registered despite the fact that the number of contracts dropped; this was caused by higher target sums of the new contracts.
Czech downhill skiers scored a sensational victory in the World Cup Nations Teams event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Sunday. The event involved four skiers from each nation, competing individually in parallel slalom. The Czech team, with Šárka Záhrobská, Lucie Hrstková, Ondřej Bank and Kryštof Krýzl, beat the United States, France and Austria to reach the finals. There the Czechs were tied 2-2 with Switzerland, but Ondřej Bank, undefeated in the previous heats, posted the fastest time to break the tie and secure the title.
The start of the week will be cloudy, with snow in most places. In lower altitudes, snow will turn into sleet or rain. Highest day temperatures should range between 0 and +5 degrees Celsius.