The Czech Republic is reported to have one of the highest levels of corruption in the European Union. In a report released by Transparency International the Czech Republic has a corruption index of 4.3, on a scale of O to 10, where 10 is the best. This result is markedly worse than that of other EU newcomers such as Slovenia with 6.1 or Hungary rated 5.0. The Czech Republic is 47th on a list of 158 states, on par with Namibia, Slovakia and Greece. The head of the Czech branch of Transparency International Adriana Krnacova says corruption is a serious problem in this country and prospects for improvement are not encouraging.
The Czech government has halted commercial sales of Tamiflu, an anti-viral drug thought to be effective against the deadly bird flu strain detected in Europe. Deputy health minister Jiri Koskuba said that all purchases of Tamiflu would now be directed towards strategic stocks. The decision was made shortly after it emerged that Czechs had bought up all available stocks which were on the market. The health authorities attempted to quell the panic buying, advising Czechs to get seasonal flu shots and assuring them that there was no imminent danger of a bird flu pandemic or even a seasonal flu epidemic.
The police have detained six suspects in connection with the investigation into the case of fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir. Krejcir, who is wanted for extensive tax evasion, extortion and conspiracy to murder, escaped to the Seychelles in June while the police were raiding his luxury villa. The Czech authorities have failed in their request to get him extradited on the grounds that Krejcir has been a citizen of the Seychelles since 1996, but an investigation into the respective crimes continues. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is negotiating an agreement on the exchange of suspects and convicts with the Seychelles.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and health insurance company representatives have reached agreement on a series of cost-cutting measures which should gradually reduce the sector's ten billion crown deficit in spending. The Prime Minister did not say how much money would be saved in this manner or how much the government planned to inject into the cash-strapped health sector next year. Details of the agreement are to be made public after it has been signed on Wednesday.
A recent one day strike by private physicians brought the money crisis in the health sector to a head and resulted in the dismissal of health minister Milada Emmerova. Experts say the crisis cannot be resolved without far-reaching structural changes.
A survey on how Czechs plan to vote in the 2006 general elections suggests that 46 percent of voters will look around for a new party to put their faith in. Among the most disgruntled respondents were young people aged between 18 and 29. Two thirds of them said they would welcome new faces in Czech politics and would seriously consider supporting a new untarnished party. Only 30 percent of respondents said they were happy with the political situation in the Czech Republic.
Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy with day temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.
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