Prime Minster Vladimir Spidla, Health Minister Marie Souckova and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka have agreed on a plan to stabilise the worsening financial situation of the Czech health sector. They declined to provide details on the planned package measures, but there has been speculation that they may include a bailout of heavily indebted hospitals. Mrs Souckova did confirm though that the draft state budget for next includes a special reserve for solving crises in the health sector. The objective is to stabilise the health sector by 2006.
Government deputy Hana Marvanova who gave birth earlier this week resigned, allowing for a replacement to take part in votes on budget reform laws next week. The resignation of right-of-centre Freedom Union deputy Hana Marvanova removed uncertainty whether she would be able to take part in the session starting on Tuesday. That is an important factor for ruling coalition which a one-vote majority in the 200-seat lower house. The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes quoted Marvanova's replacement Tomas Vrbik as saying he has not decided how he would vote. The three-party government needs all votes it can get to support the laws aimed at cutting a widening fiscal deficit to four percent of gross domestic product in 2006 from over 7 percent this year. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said he would quit if the parliament kills the reform package but left the door open for compromise by saying he would accept some changes or partial failures. Ms. Marvanova said she wanted to devote herself fully to her three children.
East Europe's first obesity research laboratory opened in Prague on Friday. A team of about a dozen French and Czech experts will study how genetics and nutrition interact in ways that contribute to weight gain. A recent survey found three-quarters of Czech men and half of Czech women between 40 and 60 years of age were either clinically obese or dangerously overweight, according to Doctor Vladimir Stich, co-director of the lab. The Franco-Czech Laboratory for Clinical Research on Obesity is a project of Prague's Charles University and France's Institute of Health and Medical Research. It is the third facility of its kind in Europe but the first in an East European country.
The Dutch-Swiss consortium Telsource will put its 27-percent stake in the leading Czech phone company Czech Telecom on offer. The consortium of KPN and Swisscom has been looking for an exit from the fixed and mobile phone operator since KPN and other European telecom companies accumulated substantial debt to buy licences for third-generation mobile networks several years ago. The 27-percent stake in Czech Telecom has a value of nearly a billion USD, at Friday's closing price of 321 crowns per share. The Czech government now holds a 51 percent stake in Telecom but plans to sell it to a strategic investor.
Tennis - the Czech Republic led Thailand 2-1 after Saturday's doubles in their World Group Davis Cup playoff on Saturday. Tomas Berdych and Jiri Novak beat Paradorn Srichaphan and Danai Udomchoke 6-3 7-6 6-4 to earn a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five match competition, and everything now hinges on the battle between Novak and Paradorn in the first of Sunday's two matches.
We are expecting another warm and sunny day, with the highest daytime temperatures ranging from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius.