The Senate has decided that the salaries of senior officials should be frozen for the next three years at 46,500 crowns. The bill was submitted by the coalition government as part of a package of public finance reforms. Initially, the Senate's constitutional law committee had proposed the pay should increase to close to 60,000 crowns per month on the grounds of lowering the difference between politicians' salaries and those in the civil service. The law on freezing the pay of elected representatives was passed in the Senate by 40 out of 69 senators present, after a heated debate between supporters of the government proposal and opponents of the present payment system.
The coalition government's health care commission has come up with two options of possible assistance to indebted regional hospitals. After a meeting that ended late Wednesday night, Health Minister Marie Souckova did not specify the alternatives, saying only that they would depend on the financial results of the hospitals, their liabilities and obligations. She added that the leaders of the governing parties should receive the proposals next week. The government commission was set up to find ways of stabilising the financial situation in the health care sector by the end of 2003. This means shortening the payment schedule of health insurance companies and resolving the debts of hospitals, which were transferred to the regions by the government in January.
After nine years of participation in the Senate, Senators for the Communist Party have formed their own senators' group. The group also includes two independent senators: the former director of the commercial TV station Nova Vladimir Zelezny and Jaroslav Kubin. Mr Zelezny and Mr Kubin, like the three Communist senators, have so far acted outside the group structure as non-affiliated. Their group, the sixth senators' group, bears the same name - Non-affiliated. The five senators say they are seeking to have the same advantageous conditions as other senators. For example, each club receives a monthly allowance of almost 32,000 crowns from the Senate budget and in addition, an allowance of over 4,000 crowns per member a month and the group head has an office car at his or her disposal.
Czech police said on Thursday they were holding three men who had attempted to smuggle 2.5 kg of the plastic explosive Semtex, a gun and other items into neighbouring Austria. Experts said the amount of Semtex - a powerful Czech-made explosive with a record of being used by terrorist groups - was enough to bring down an aircraft. A police spokeswoman said the group tried to cross the border in a car late on Wednesday evening. All were carrying Czech passports.
Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky, a descendant of the Kinsky noble family seeking the return of his family property in the Czech Republic, will consider filing a lawsuit against Culture Minister Pavel Dostal, Mr Kinsky's lawyer Jaroslav Capek told journalists on Thursday. Mr Capek said earlier that Minister Dostal's statements about Mr Kinsky were a smear campaign. He said that he would file the lawsuit in Austria. Mr Kinsky has filed over 150 lawsuits for the return of his family property, but he has only won five of them, and lost one dispute. After Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky won his first legal disputes, Mr Dostal said: "...only a blind judge could have ruled that the Benes decrees had not been used rightfully in connection with Mr Kinsky."
Friday should be partly cloudy with occasional rain. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 4 to 8 degrees Celsius.
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