Daily news summary News

13-03-2005

PM preparing an eight-point plan of government priorities

Prime Minister Stanislav Gross is preparing an eight point plan which will outline the government's priorities in the remaining 15 months in office. In a debate on Czech TV, Mr. Gross said the crisis of the past few weeks had drawn attention away from matters which were vitally important and that he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to them. The government's priorities include a reform of the health and pension systems, the ratification of the European Constitution, preparations for the adoption of the euro in several years' time, and fighting unemployment. The opposition Civic Democrats have slammed the idea as a populist attempt to draw attention away from the fact that the government crisis had not been properly resolved.

Cardinal Vlk complains of lack of funding

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk says the Catholic Church has not received adequate funds from the state to enable it to pay its priests proper salaries. In a statement for the CTK news agency the Cardinal complained that last year the Catholic Church had received 28 million crowns less in state funding and that this year it has no idea what to expect. "We are left at the mercy of the culture ministry" the Cardinal said, noting that Catholic priests were now living on meagre salaries. The Church is convinced that this is in violation of the law and has warned that if the government remains deaf to its needs it is prepared to take the matter to court.

Fresh snow creates more traffic problems

A second night of heavy snow paralyzed traffic in many parts of the country in the early hours of Sunday. Rail traffic ground to a halt in many parts of the Czech Republic due to deep snow drifts and had to be replaced by busses. However even traffic along the main roads was slow and many mountain roads were impassable. Clean up operations were complicated by a strong wind and more snow showers. Drivers have been advised to put off driving to the mountain regions if they can avoid it. More problems are expected on the roads on Sunday evening as hundreds of people head back home after a weekend of skiing.

Government plane forced to turn back

A plane carrying defence minister Karel Kuhnl on a working visit to Israel was forced to turn back after an hour's flight on Sunday due to technical problems. The plane returned to Prague's Ruzyne Airport where technicians repaired the damage. A defence ministry spokesman said there was a two hour delay but no one aboard the plane was in any danger. Minister Kuhnl is to spend four days in Israel during which time he will meet with top officials to debate the political and security situation in the region, the fight against terrorism and bilateral cooperation.

Weather:

Monday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.

13-03-2005