Czech President Vaclav Klaus has signed the state budget law for 2005. The law envisages a deficit of 84 billion Czech crowns. However, opposition parties and most economists say the deficit will be much higher, over 100 billion crowns, once the state has covered the losses of the Czech bailout agency, Ceska Konsolidacni Agentura, which primarily ensures the privatisation of state-owned companies.
Mr Klaus also signed an amendment to the income tax law on Wednesday. The new law introduces tax relief for families with children, joint taxation of married couples, and faster depreciation of assets for businesses. The government says it would help families and companies save tens of billions of crowns in the coming years.
The European Commission has concluded that the Czech Republic, along with Cyprus, Malta, Poland and Slovakia, are on track for correcting their excessive deficits. In July, the European Council recommended they take effective action to control their budget deficits. The Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, said on Wednesday, he was pleased to see the recommendations taken seriously, adding that they are appropriate for periods of high growth such as those experienced by the EU states in question.
Taking into account the initial level of the deficit and the ongoing structural shift related to the convergence process, the Council recommended that the excessive deficit be corrected by 2008 in the Czech Republic.
Czech breweries expect to export a record 2.4 million hectolitres of beer this year. The Chairman of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, Jan Vesely, said on Wednesday this would be up by 12 per cent from 2003, adding that breweries are preparing a campaign to promote their beer abroad. Germany, Slovakia, Great Britain and the USA, are the main importers of Czech beer. On average, exports rise by between five and twenty percent year- on-year.
The Ostrava Regional Court has found a 23 year-old Czech woman guilty of dealing in heroin and has sentenced her to eight years in prison. Her twelve Vietnamese accomplices are to be expelled and face jail sentences between nine and ten years. Two of Vietnamese nationals were staying in the Czech Republic illegally. Police say the heroin sold by the gang would have been worth close to two million crowns (some 66,500 euros) on the black market.
The Czech cabinet has approved an agreement with the Prague-based broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which sees the station's headquarters remaining in the city centre until the end of 2007. Since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States, many Prague citizens fear the US-funded RFE/RL next to the National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square, could be a security threat as further terrorist attacks against US interests are possible. RFE/RL is paying a symbolic one US dollar in rent but invests two million dollars yearly in the building's maintenance.
As of Thursday, Czechs will not need to show their passports to enter Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Bilateral agreements allow citizens to travel on their ID cards only. However, Czechs under the age of eighteen, who plan to work or stay longer than three months, will still have to have their passports.
Thursday will have overcast skies with rain and day-time temperatures will range from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
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Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
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