Mining experts say strikers in no immediate danger
A team of mining experts on Friday descended into the bowels of the Kohinoor coal mine to ascertain the possible danger for 48 striking miners who are now spending their 15th day underground in a desperate attempt to prevent the mines closure. Although temperatures down in the shaft came close to 40 degs C. the team said there was no immediate danger of a fire or explosion. The group of miners are also reported to be doing surprisingly well from a psychological point of view, given the amount of time spent in cramped quarters underground. Meanwhile, above ground, talks with a potential buyer hit the rocks on Friday. The mine's management says it still has four offers on the table and the mine will go to the highest bidder.
Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik says he is prepared to support the National Bank's inflation target for the year 2001. He said the figure would be made available at the end of April and that he believed that it would be generally well received. " It is a compromise born of numerous tough debates between the ministry and the bank" Mertlik told journalists. The bank's representatives have welcome the minister's support and economic analysts are calling it "a good signal for the country's economy".
The Governor of the National Bank Josef Tosovsky left for Washington of Friday, where he is to attend the spring session of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The main topic of debate is monetary reform. Meanwhile here in Prague, anti-globalization activists are preparing one of their protests against the autumn session of the IMF and the World Bank to be held at the Conference Center in the Czech capital. The first in a series of planned protests is to take place on the Old Town Square on Saturday April 15th. The City hall has not approved the gathering due to the fact that the square is the site on a traditional Easter market but the organizers of the protest say they'll go ahead with it anyway.
Parliament has approved a law transferring state property into regional ownership. The law envisages the transfer of property relating to state-owned primary and secondary schools, libraries, museums, galleries and roads. The law still has to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Havel.
The four-party opposition alliance has announced plans to push for lower taxes. Miroslav Kalousek of the Christian Democrats said the opposition parties were working on a far-reaching tax reform project which would alleviate the tax burden on individuals and families with children. If the proposed law were approved it would save a four member family over 8 thousand crowns in taxes a year. A single, childless agent would save close to 2 thousand crowns a year. According to the bill's proponents the impact on the state budget would not be drastic since the lower taxes would be made up for by higher productivity , lower expenditures and lower unemployment.
Fifty three thousand people were not paid their wages due to economic problems last year. That according to Labor and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla who on Friday went before the Lower House to defend the government's strategy in addressing the problem. Minister Spidla argued that several proposed amendments to the labor code and in particular the new bankruptcy law would help employees to get at least part of their earnings in future.
We should have a fairly pleasant weekend ahead. Saturday is expected to bring partly cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine and day temps between 15 and 19 degs. C. Sunday will be slightly colder with temps between 12 and 16 degs.
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