Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

11-05-2003

Coalition parties approve pension reform and state expenditure cuts

Representatives of the three Czech ruling coalition parties have agreed to measures aimed at reducing the country's growing deficit of public finances. Cabinet experts agreed to reduce the number of state bureaucrats and to slow down wage growth in the public sector. The ministers also approved a radical reform of the pension scheme from a continuously financed system to a savings-based one. The retirement age will be increased to 63 from the current 61 for men and 60 for women. Czech economic experts and foreign institutions have repeatedly warned that the growing public finance gap is unsustainable and besides causing other problems, it could pose a threat to the country's adoption of the single European currency.

A young Czech taken to hospital after returning from China with suspecion of SARS

A young Czech man who recently visited China has been admitted to Prague Bulovka hospital for fears he may have contracted the SARS disease. Doctors said the hospitalisation was more of a precautionary measure because the 30-year old man had fever but no other symptoms typical for SARS. Around 30 people so far have been taken to hospitals in the Czech Republic for suspcion of SARS but tests did not prove the disease in any of them. More than 500 people have died and thousands contracted the disease worldwide, with the biggest number of cases in China.

Customs seize a record amount of illegal cigarettes in west Bohemia

Czech customs officers have seized over a million illegal cigarettes at an open-air market in west Bohemian town of As. Tax evasion connected with sale of the cigarettes would have amounted to almost 2 million crowns. The customs authority said this was the biggest amount of illegal cigarettes confiscated at open air markets in the region. No one was arrested as the none of the vendors claimed the goods hidden among the stalls.

Unlucky Czech ice hockey team receives warm welcome home

The Czech ice hockey team, who ended fourth at the world ice hockey championships in Finland on Saturday, have received a warm welcome home. Several dozen fans applauded each team member as they emerged at the at Prague Ruzyne airport on Sunday. The Czechs won world title in three of the past four years. The president of the Czech Ice Hockey Union, Karel Gut, said the fourth place was still a great success and that replacing the national team's three couches was out of the question.

Czech weather forecast

We are expecting a cloudy day with rain and thunderstorms in some places. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 17 to 21 degrees Celsius, and up to 24 degrees in eastern parts of the country.

11-05-2003