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President appoints new Culture Minister and head of Office for the Protection of Personal Data

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has appointed actor Vitezslav Jandak culture minister. Mr Jandak says his main priority will be to get his ministry a bigger slice of the state budget and attract more sponsors to rebuild the country's cultural heritage. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek expects the new culture minister to establish a constructive dialogue with the churches - an area, which has proved to be problematic in recent years. Mr Jandak attended his first lower house meeting as culture minister, on Wednesday evening, just hours after his appointment. He replaces the late Pavel Dostal who died of cancer last month.

President Klaus also appointed the former Prague mayor, Igor Nemec, as head of the Office for Protection of Personal Data on Wednesday.

Rent deregulation bill makes it through first reading in parliament

A government bill to raise regulated rent has made it through the first reading in the lower house of the Czech Parliament. The bill, which sees regulated rent increase by an annual average of 9.3% for a period of six years, is now to be discussed by a number of parliamentary committees. Under the government's proposal, the annual increases would begin in October 2006.

An estimated 750,000 flats are rent-controlled in the Czech Republic. If the bill comes into effect, an additional 36 billion crowns will be collected in rent, in the six years, according to Regional Development Ministry estimates.

Education Ministry earmarks ten million crowns to support Roma students from low-income families

The Education Ministry has adopted a new plan that hopes to increase the number of Roma children from low-income families in secondary schools. Educational institutions have until the end of September to apply for up to 7,000 crowns (approx. 290 US dollars) to cover a Roma student's expenses for the period from September to December. These include tuition fees, and food and travel expenses. All applications will be processed by a special education ministry committee with representatives from regional offices, the ministries of interior and labour and social affairs, and the Government Council for Roma Affairs. The ministry has earmarked 10 million crowns (approx 420,000 US dollars) for this project.

Four companies left to bid in most expensive Czech Army tender

Four out of seven companies have advanced to the second round of a close to one billion US dollar Czech Army tender, reportedly the biggest in its history. The four bidders that are still in the race to supply over 200 armoured transport vehicles, from 2007 to 2012, are the United State's BAE Systems, Finland's Patria, Austria's Steyer-Daimler-Puch and Germany's Rheinmetall.


The next few days are expected to have overcast skies with occasional showers and average day-time temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius.