If the Czech Republic fails to introduce mandatory retirement savings plans as part of the reform of the pension system, it will soon find itself bankrupt, according to leading Czech economists. During a presentation of the basic parameters of pension reform on Thursday, economic analyst David Marek estimated that the Czech Republic will accumulate a debt of 280 percent of its GDP in the next fifty years, and 1000 percent by 2075, if mandatory savings plans are not enforced. The planned reform of the pension system is scheduled for 2006. The country's debt currently totals 40 percent of the GDP.
A number of Czech embassies abroad may have to be closed down in order to save costs, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said on Thursday. Mr Svoboda was speaking after a meeting with his Moldovan counterpart Andrei Stratan, who is currently on a state visit and announced that a new embassy would be opened in Prague. Mr Svoboda admitted that his ministry was considering shutting down embassies abroad but intends to see how much money it will be allocated out of next year's state budget first. Since the ministry's budget currently represents 0.5 percent of the state budget, Mr Svoboda said, it will have to sort out its priorities, and will most probably close down embassies instead of opening new ones.
Representatives of various Czech non-governmental organisations, who met in Prague on Thursday to discuss living conditions in the Czech Republic, stressed that the fight against poverty cannot be won without a simultaneous fight against the bad attitude of most of society towards poorer citizens. According to NGOs like Hope and the Olga Havlova Foundation, the Czech Republic is also in need of a law that would help poorer citizens integrate into society. They point out that some places of residence still lack effective waste management and a proper canal system and any attempts to lead a better life are therefore hindered by bad living conditions. Czech Statistical Office figures show that 1.2 percent of Czech households have an income that is well below the living wage.
The attempt of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to fight corruption with the help of anonymous reports, has failed to bear fruit. Since a special telephone line that citizens can call to file corruption cases was set up in September, only three people have dialled the number; all three, however, had no corruption cases to report but many complaints. One man for example, who also sent the ministry an e-mail, called to complain about the bad labour market in the Bruntal region.
The Czech Republic beat Armenia 3:0 away on Wednesday night in a qualifying game for the 2006 football World Cup. Two of the Czechs' goals came from Jan Koller, who is now just two short of the national record of 34 goals set by Antonin Puc before World War II. The Czech Republic's next World Cup qualifier is against Macedonia next month.
Basketball player Kamila Vodickova has become the first Czech ever to win North America's WNBA. Vodickova, who is 31, scored 14 points for her club Seattle Storm in the game which clinched the WNBA playoff finals.
Friday is expected to have cloudy skies with scattered showers and day-time temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.
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