On Monday, the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will launch its pilot programme aimed at attracting several hundred specialists from Croatia, Bulgaria, and Kazakhstan, minister Zdenek Skromach told reporters on Friday. The first stage of the project worth 11 million Czech crowns will concern people already working in the Czech Republic. To be admitted, applicants must have at least a secondary school education, a guaranteed job in the Czech Republic, and a residence permit. Their age and experience will also be taken into account. The plan has had to face much criticism from experts who fear the increased number of foreign workers could threaten the Czech labour market where unemployment stands at ten percent. But Mr Skromach defends the project saying applicants will be admitted for vacancies which the state is unable to fill with Czech citizens.
The EC delegation in the Czech Republic expects the state to close down tax-free shops by the end of this year, and not by March 2004 as stipulated by an amendment passed by the lower house this week, an unnamed source from the delegation told the CTK news agency on Friday. However, it is not clear whether the European Commission will intervene if these shops keep operating next year. Despite the European Union insisting Czechs close all duty- and tax-free shops on the borders with Austria and Germany, lower house deputies have postponed the definite date on several occasions. The last "duty-free" shops within the EU were closed at EU airports and on ships in 1999.
Jaroslav Tvrdik's mandate as lower house deputy comes to an end this Saturday. The Former Defence Minister resigned from his post as minister in June over cuts in defence spending. Partially in opposition to the government's public finance reform plan, he decided to leave politics altogether and handed in his resignation a month ago. Mr Tvrdik has not said what his plans will be after leaving the Czech political scene. His post in the Chamber of Deputies will be filled by his party colleague Zdenek Jicinsky.
The People in Need foundation intends to spend over 30 million Czech crowns on humanitarian projects in war-torn Iraq this year. It has already sent the first supply of medicine and sanitary materials and has chosen health centres and schools that are to be reconstructed and given the most necessary equipment. According to Simon Panek, the head of the operation which will focus on the province of Missan in southern Iraq, the project is made possible thanks to the financial contributions from the Czech Foreign Ministry, international foundations and UN organisations.
The country's castles and chateaux will not have to close their doors before the end of the season, according to the General Director of the National Heritage Institute Jiri Kotlik. Despite tour guides receiving less than the minimum wage, castle wardens around the country warned earlier this month they could only afford to pay their employees and attend to buildings until the beginning of September. On Friday, Mr Kotalik announced that 3.3 million Czech crowns would be available to increase the number of tour guides and pay employees enough to reach the minimum monthly wage, which currently stands at 6,200 Czech crowns (a little over 220 US dollars).
Czech President Vaclav Klaus is feeling better and is most likely to be released from hospital this weekend. Suffering from exhaustion, pains in his joints and tonsillitis, Mr Klaus was admitted to hospital on Monday evening. His doctors recommend he stay home for at least another week. The Czech President is expected to rest at the presidential summer retreat of Lany Castle.
Day-time temperatures are expected to rise again over the weekend, reaching a maximum of 29 degrees Celsius on Saturday and 32 degrees Celsius on Sunday, which will also see overcast skies and some scattered rain.
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