The European Commission has approved the Czech Republic's plans to financially compensate those who will be hit the hardest by the restructuring of the national railway operator Ceske Drahy. The Czech government expects to spend a total of 1.86 billion Czech crowns (77.5 million US dollars) to compensate Ceske Drahy employees who will have to be laid off.
The Czech Parliament's defence and foreign affairs committees have asked legislators to approve the government's proposal to extend the mission of Czech military police stationed in Iraq. The group of about one hundred military police is based in southern Iraq and is helping to train local police there. The mission was to return home at the end of February, but the government recommended last week that it stay on till the end of the year. The lower house of parliament is expected to discuss the extension, which will cost the Defence Ministry around 175 million crowns (just over 7 million US dollars), at Friday's session.
The Czech government has approved the establishment of a guarded institution for extremely dangerous prisoners and for criminals who cannot be tried by reason of insanity. The so-called "detention institution" will be a cross between a mental institution and a prison. The Justice Ministry hopes to open it for some one hundred prisoners in the Moravian capital city of Brno. Experts say it is imperative that such an institution be established as the respective criminals cannot be given the psychiatric care they need in normal prisons and can disrupt the daily routine.
Czech footwear output dropped to five million pairs last year because domestic shoe producers are unable to compete with the low prices of imports from China, the Czech Footwear Association (COA) said on Wednesday. In 2004, Chinese footwear firms exported almost 32 million pairs of shoes to the Czech Republic. According to COA president Petr Kubat, Asian retailers issue no receipts on a product's purchase, hold back sales figures and evade the payment of tax.
The Czech Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Martin Jahn has unveiled a five point plan for the Czech economy. The plan includes an economic growth strategy, health and welfare reforms, plans to improve the business environment through a new bankruptcy act, simplified tax laws, and increased support for science and research. Mr Jahn said that, if implemented successfully, within the next decade his five point plan would make the Czech Republic's economy one of the strongest in Europe.
The dominant fixed-line operator Cesky Telecom wants to outsource its network maintenance operations to the German electronics giant Siemens, as part of stringent cost-cutting plans. In an interview for the German business daily Handelsblatt, the Cesky Telecom chairman Gabriel Berdar said the company would do a trial run for a couple of months. If it works out, a deal could be sealed in the second or third quarter of this year. The move would cut around 3,300 jobs at Cesky Telecom, in which the Czech government wants to sell a 51-percent stake, the newspaper said.
The Czech football international Petr Cech has been named the second best goalkeeper in the world in 2004 in a poll by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. Petr Cech, who at 22 is unusually young for a top flight goalkeeper, has been a big success since joining Chelsea; in 23 league games for the English club he has only conceded eight goals.
Temperatures over the next few days are expected to stay above the freezing point with maximum daytime temperatures reaching 6 degrees Celsius over the weekend.
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