Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

14-09-2003

Spidla: minor changes to reform package possible

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said the government is willing to make minor changes to the planned public finance reforms, but will not weaken them. His comments came one day after around 15,000 trade union members demonstrated in the centre of Prague against the planned reforms. Mr Spidla was speaking to reporters after a meeting on Sunday between the leaders of the three coalition parties in the centre-left cabinet. Mr Spidla has said repeatedly that he will not be blackmailed by the trade unions. However in an apparent softening of tone, he said the government would listen to proposals put forward by "its social partners" before submitting the final draft to parliament.

Government under fire from both sides over reforms

Union leaders say the reforms - which include plans to cut sickness benefit and pensions - will hit the poorest members of society. The government insists the reforms must go ahead, saying budget cuts are necessary to prepare the Czech economy for eventual adoption of the single European currency. Analysts, on the other hand, say they don't go far enough towards meeting the Maastrict criteria for adopting the euro. The Czech Republic joins the European Union in May 2004.

Rebel MP Hojdar: government will fall by Christmas

As the main opposition Civic Democrats continue preparations for a vote of confidence over the reforms, a rebel MP from the ruling coalition has said he believes the government will fall before the end of the year. Quoted in a newspaper interview, Social Democrat MP Josef Hojdar said he had still not decided whether or not to vote against the government in the confidence vote. The centre-left coalition has a majority of just one seat in the lower house, and Mr Hojdar's vote could be crucial to the government's survival. Mr Hojdar recently resigned from the Social Democrats' deputies' group, although he remains a member of the party.

Bus driver killed, 12 passengers seriously injured in crash

A bus driver has been killed and 12 people seriously injured in a crash near the town of Svitavy. The accident happened at around 11.30 on Saturday night after a bus carrying 45 passengers collided with a railway viaduct. The driver was killed instantly, 24 passengers were taken to hospital, 12 of them with serious injuries. The remaining passengers - believed to be pensioners returning from a day trip - escaped with minor cuts and bruises. Police have launched an investigation to establish the cause of the crash. There have been a number of serious road accidents involving buses in recent years, the worst of which left seventeen passengers dead.

Klaus sends condolences to parents of girl mauled to death by dog

President Vaclav Klaus has sent his condolences to the parents of a baby girl who was mauled to death by the family's dog on Friday. At the same time President Klaus called for the strictest punishment to be applied to dog owners who neglect their animals. The 18-month-year-old girl was killed as she was playing in the backyard of her house in the village of Kovansko, near Nymburk. The dog - a cross between a Labrador and a Doberman - has been taken away by the authorities. Police say they have no idea why the animal attacked the girl, the couple's only child. Meanwhile on Sunday policemen in Cheb were forced to fire their pistols at two escaped pit-bull terriers who were attacking an elderly woman.

Czech international Baros breaks ankle during Premiere League match

Football and the Czech international Milan Baros has broken his ankle during an English Premiere League match. Baros, who plays for Liverpool, was rushed to hospital after being stretchered off during Saturday's game against Blackburn Rovers. Baros, 21, is an important member of the Czech national team. He scored the final goal in Wednesday's 3-1 victory over the Netherlands, which saw the Czech Republic qualify for the 2004 European Championships.

Weather

Monday be a mostly sunny day, and warmer than in recent days. Temperatures will reach highs of 21 degrees Celsius, rising on Tuesday to 23 degrees.

14-09-2003