The finance minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has said the coalition government should consider resigning if a budget deficit target for next year is not approved. Mr Sobotka said on Friday that keeping the 2004 budget gap target at 118 billion crowns, or 4.15 billion US dollars, was essential for the implementation of a fiscal reform package being put forward by the cabinet. On Tuesday the Chamber of Deputies will debate the reform package in its first reading, with a crucial vote not expected before September. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has previously staked his position on the approval of the reforms.
Prime Minister Spidla, in the United States for a week-long official visit, has been outlining the Czech Republic's foreign policy. Speaking at a university in Houston, Texas, he said it was based on good relations with the country's neighbours, European integration, a strong relationship with the US and trans-Atlantic security as embodied by NATO. Mr Spidla described NATO as irreplaceable and said it was easier to reach agreement within the alliance than any other international organisation, including the United Nations.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a proposed increase in value added tax. The tax increase would see VAT on some products and services rise from 5 percent to 22 percent and is intended to bring an extra 11 billion crowns into the state coffers. A spokesman for Mr Klaus said on Friday that the president was unhappy the Senate had not ruled on the proposed changes. The bill now returns to the Chamber of Deputies for further debate.
A Czech military policeman has been slightly injured in the Iraqi city of Basra. He sustained the injury trying to restrain an Iraqi suspect attempting to escape from a boat in Basra harbour, a spokesman for the Czech military field hospital based in the city said on Friday.
A man was given a prison sentence by the Regional Court in Ostrava on Friday for setting his German Shepherd dog on his housemate; the victim was so badly bitten that he bled to death from his injuries. Zdenek Sobol received an eight and a half year prison term for the killing.
Saturday should be sunny in most parts of the country, with a maximum temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. Sunday is also expected to be sunny, with temperatures ranging from 25 to 29 degrees.
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