Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

12-04-2003

Foreign minister urges reforms

Foreign Minister and the leader of the junior coalition Christian Democrats Cyril Svoboda said his party would push its leftist coalition partners to agree to public spending cuts to speed up the adoption of the euro currency. Svoboda said his party would urge the government to approve major fiscal reforms aimed at joining the euro between 2007 and 2009. This is a more ambitious target than has been proposed by the ruling Social Democrats who have largely spoken against radical spending cuts, especially in social welfare, and favoured the period between 2009-2011 as possible target dates for euro zone entry.

Another self-immolation attempt fails

Police in the town of Boskovice, central Moravia, reported another suicide attempt by self-immolation on Saturday. A drunken man poured diesel over himself at a petrol station and tried to set himself alight. However, having mistaken slow-burning diesel for petrol, his attempt failed. The police said the man wanted to commit suicide because his wife wanted to divorce him. Since the beginning of March, six people in the Czech Republic have committed suicide by burning themselves to death. Psychologists around the country have condemned the series of self-immolations, warning that they can dangerously influence depressed people.

Author Zdenek Jirotka dies

The popular Czech novelist Zdenek Jirotka died at the age of 92 early on Saturday. Jirotka was an excellent storyteller, author of several comic novels, short stories, TV and radio plays. He was best known for his satiric novel Saturnin set in the 1920s, telling the stories of a young upper class man and his servant who never ceases to surprise his master with original solutions to everyday problems.

Czechs consider two power sales in second half

The Czech Republic may sell shares worth an estimated $1 billion in two power utilities in the second half of this year. Vice chairman of the Czech National Property Fund, Pavel Kuta, said the state was considering a plan to sell a 16-percent stake in the national power producer CEZ, reducing its two-thirds majority in eastern Europe's largest power utility. He also said that the state, which needs funds to stem the rapid growth of public debt, would also consider ways to sell the profitable national high-voltage power grid in which it directly holds a 66 percent stake. The government is also about to sell stakes in the oil group Unipetrol and the natural gas monopoly importer Transgas. The government is also considering a sale of three stakes in coal mining companies.

Weather forecast

We are expecting a partially cloudy day with scattered showers in the Southern parts of the country. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius.

12-04-2003