The Czech cabinet failed to agree on the 2004 draft state budget on Wednesday and will meet again to discuss it on September 17. The delay was not unexpected given ministries have asked for more than 40 billion crowns in excess of limits set within a budget framework approved in July. The government has set a ceiling of 118 billion crowns on the budget deficit for next year. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the limit is untouchable as a part of the government's drive to slash the public finance gap to four percent of gross domestic product in 2006 from more than 7 percent this year. The cabinet must send the budget draft to parliament by the end of September.
The Czech national carrier Czech Airlines has a new board of directors to be headed by the former defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik. The change is expected to stabilize the firm financially. Czech Airlines is majority-owned by the state which, through the National Property Fund, controls 90 percent of shares. Upon his appointment, Mr. Tvrdik said he trusted the current management and was not planning any major personnel changes or bringing in his former colleagues from the defence ministry.
More than 400 police and customs officers seized about 350 tons of counterfeit goods during a crackdown on illegal merchandise at one of Prague's largest outdoor markets. Officials said on Wednesday that about 300 million crowns (or 10 million US dollars) worth of clothing, appliances and other consumer items were seized during the three-day sweep of the Libus marketplace. The market is one of several in Prague staffed by thousands of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants who sell low-cost goods - from televisions to liquor. The sweep was the latest in the government's year-long effort to halt the sale of fake goods at outdoor markets countrywide - most staffed by Asians and stocked with goods made in Asian countries.
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has confirmed that Russia was considering the raising of duty on Czech Skoda cars by 6 percent. The decision is expected to be made by Friday. The duty would be raised in retaliation for the imposition of a 35-percent duty on imports of Russian potassium nitrate to the Czech Republic. As a result, Russian producers of fertilisers will lose 1.5 million US dollars. The raising of import duty on Skoda cars should cause the same loss to Czech company Skoda Auto. Analysts say the higher duty could render Skoda cars unsaleable on the Russian market. Skoda Auto exports about 2 percent of its output to Russia, with 10,000 units sold there in 2002.
We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, especially in the north and northeast of the country. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
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