Central Bank governor Miroslav Singer said on Monday that a loan to the IMF to the tune of 90 billion crowns to help save the euro would have to be very seriously considered. The governor said the central bank needed to maintain its own reserves high in view of the danger of upheaval in the eurozone and possible far-reaching structural changes which would impact the Czech Republic. The statement has come under fire from the bank’s former vice governor Ludek Niedermayer who said that in his view the central bank had a long-term problem with excessive foreign currency reserves and that making the loan would work in the bank’s favour. He moreover pointed out that the independence of the central bank had its limits and although the government would hear its position and might be swayed by it he could not imagine the central bank refusing to loan the money if the government so decided.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has indicted that the Czech government would have little choice but to approve the loan in view of the fact that a rejection would result in the country’s isolation and could have a far-reaching negative impact on its future development. Mr. Schwarzenberg also pointed out that as an EU member the Czech Republic had a moral obligation to pull its weight in helping to save the euro. The money loaned would not be used for direct assistance but to help boost the IMFs reserves at a time of economic crisis. The matter should be consulted with parliament although the government has the final word on the loan.
President Vaclav Klaus, on the other hand, said in an interview for Czech Radio on Monday that the Czech Republic should not lend money to struggling euro-zone members when it was clearly having problems dealing with its own debt. He said such a step would be irresponsible and in the long run would only delay the need to find a real solution to the euro-zones’ problems.
The Dalai Lama, ex-president Vaclav Havel and former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner have signed a declaration in support of dissidents worldwide. The Tibetan spiritual leader, who wound up a three day visit to Prague on Monday, expressed regret that economic interests often outweighed and overshadowed human rights issues in countries such as China, North Korea Iran or Syria. He said he felt it his moral responsibility to support freedom of speech and human rights and assist dissidents fighting to achieve these goals in countries around the world. The Tibetan spiritual leader was in Prague at the invitation of his good friend ex-president Vaclav Havel. He also met privately with Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, took part in a debate on human rights and presented a lecture on the search of happiness in an uncertain world.
Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has ordered a criminal investigation into the case of a Qatari prince who was allowed to return to his homeland after being convicted of sexually abusing underage girls in the Czech Republic. Mr. Zeman has questioned the decision of then justice minister Pavel Nemec to hand over the prince to the Qatari authorities on a promise that justice would be done. The prince, who received a 2.5 year prison sentence in the Czech Republic, was briefly held in his homeland and then released on bail. The Supreme State Attorney has ordered an investigation on suspicion of corruption.
The government’s economic advisory council NERV is to acquaint the prime minister with a detailed crisis scenario for the Czech economy. The package of 40 measures should be adopted if there is danger of the GDP dropping by more than 2 percent. The measures include a single VAT rate of 20 percent, a freezing of pensions, layoffs of police officers, higher bank taxes and shorter university studies, among others.
The Finance Ministry is expected to present a concrete plan of action in January 2012, when a more precise forecast of the Czech Republic´s economic development will be made available.
A consortium of Czech, Chinese and US companies wants to produce a new type of plane in the Czech Republic, Miroslav Krizek of the government agency CzechInvest, told journalists on Monday. The deal, which should be sealed in the coming weeks, will be one of the biggest contracts the Czech aviation industry has had in years, he said. No further information was disclosed regarding the type of plane to be produced or what companies will be involved in its production. A significant part of the capital for the project is being put up by China.
The government’s legislative council has called for a detailed inventory of property to be returned to the country’s churches within the agreed on restitution process. The head of the legislative council Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake of Public Affairs said an inventory was essential in order to prevent future disputes over whether the restituted property had been in state ownership. She said further the cabinet should approve each and every restitution separately. The Catholic Church which is to regain the lion’s share of restituted property is concerned that such an inventory could seriously complicate and delay the restitution process. In filing for restitution churches have had to document past ownership of the property in question.
An army plane has left for Libya to secure the transport of five seriously injured Libyans to Czech hospitals for treatment. Two of them are in need of extensive plastic surgery, two are paralyzed from the waist down, and the last patient has a complicated fracture. They are to receive care within the government’s MEDEVAC programme originally set up to help children from war-torn countries or natural disaster victims.
Two patients were injured in a fire in an Ostrava hospital on Sunday. According to a spokeswoman the fire broke out in one of the hospital rooms and was most likely caused by a patient who disregarded a smoking ban and lit up in bed. The patient herself, aged 69, suffered severe burns. Her roommate is also reported injured. Twenty-two people were evacuated from the ward. The incident is being investigated.
The coming days should be partly cloudy with scattered showers and day temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.