The Czech government has given the nod for the Interior Ministry to prepare legislation that would legalise prostitution while bringing it under regulation of the state. Under the bill prostitutes would pay taxes for plying their trade and would be required to take monthly medical check-ups. Licences to prostitutes would be issued by offices in authorised municipalities to both Czech and foreigner sex workers over the age of eighteen. Professional facilities, meanwhile, offering sex would also have to pay a set annual fee, early estimates say, of 200, 000 crowns. The sex trade is widespread in the Czech Republic: some reports have as many as 25, 000 individuals currently working as prostitutes throughout the country, roughly half of those foreign nationals.
The government rejected a Christian Democrat proposal on Wednesday calling for an amendment to the penal code that would have issued tougher sentences for those convicted of brutal crimes as well as repeat offenders. The government rejected the bill, however, because it is planning its own revision to the penal code, including a stricter stance on serious crimes. The Christian Democrats, who are one of the junior parties in the coalition government, plan to put forward their proposal in Parliament regardless. Their proposal, for one, recommends that life sentences could be issued not only for those convicted of murder or a terrorist act but also, but for those who committed especially brutal cases of rape, blackmail, or grievous bodily harm.
The Finance Ministry has released its macroeconomic forecast for 2005, saying the Czech GDP economic growth will be expected to accelerate from 2.8 percent this year to 3.1. Estimates meanwhile show a drop in inflation by 0.3 percent.
The Czech government has approved the sale of the petrochemical group Unipetrol to be sold to Poland's PKN Orlen; the announcement was made by Finance Ministry spokesman Marek Zeman on Wednesday. PKN, the only short-listed bidder to actually go ahead with its bid: more than 13 billion crowns for the government's 63 per cent majority in the group. Unipetrol is made up of top Czech fuels dealer Benzina, the Chemopetrol refinery, rubber manufacturer Kaucuk, oil processor Ceska rafinerska, oil producer Paramo, and the Spolana chemical company.
On Wednesday spokeswoman for the Ministry for Information Technology, Klara Volna, revealed the government had approved plans to complete preparations for digital broadcasting in the Czech Republic. Digital broadcasting will offer viewers a greater variety of choice along with better quality reception. Confirming earlier reports, Mrs Volna said that the ministry planned to see the first digital TV broadcast in the Czech Republic would begin in 2004.
Czech police have broken up a four-member thieving gang allegedly responsible for breaking into some 45 flats in Prague and central Bohemia. All four suspects are nationals from former Yugoslavia, all were caught with false passports. Besides robbing flats for damages of up to 15 million crowns, the gang was also believed to have been involved in an additional 69 robberies. Police have remanded the suspects in custody.
Thursday will see sunny weather with daytime temperatures reaching 22 degrees Celsius.