Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail
Czech prime minister Milos Zeman has outlined his Cabinet's priorities for 1999, emphasizing the need to promote economic growth and fight corruption. In an interview for private TV Nova Zeman said he was in favour of establishing "a crisis management" to help the economy back on its feet. The prime minister called for public solidarity , promising Czechs that in return his Cabinet would wage a merciless battle against corruption at all levels. " We are facing economic hardship and you can't ask people to roll up their sleeves and work hard when thieves in their midst are getting off scot free" Zeman pointed out. He stressed that the economic problems the Czech Republic was facing were not of his making and said his Cabinet deserved a period of grace in which to tackle them.
President Havel's New Year address to the nation has evoked mixed reactions among Czech politicians. While representatives of the Christian Democratic Party and Freedom Union felt the President very accurately pinpointed what ails Czech society in the present day, the leader of the Civic Democratic Party Vaclav Klaus said he did not like "moralizing on a theoretical plane" which was really out of this world. "We must accept the reality of the world around us and each of us do something on a practical level to make the world a better place, that alone makes sense" Klaus said . He also stressed he was nowhere near as pessimistic as President Havel, who spoke of "the new walls which were dividing Czech society, provincialism and indifference". Meanwhile, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said the President's address was an inspiration .
The deputy governor of the Czech National Bank Pavel Kysilka has hinted at further reductions in key interest rates in the coming months. Just a fortnight ago the bank lowered its two week repo rate to nine and a half percent and cut its discount and lombard rates by 2,5%. The loosening of the bank's tight fiscal policy has been welcomed by the country's leading economists who view it as a prerequisite for economic growth. Other priorities are speeding up the privatization of the banking sector and attracting more foreign investment.
The front pages of the first Czech papers to come out in the new year are dominated by New Year celebrations in the Czech Republic and the introduction of the new European currency in 11 EU states. Mlada Fronta Dnes calls it the "beginning of a new Europe" and a decisive test for the states of the European Union. With the euro the Old Continent could begin its ascent to a superpower position. If it passes the test it will find new strength in unity, the paper notes.
And finally a look at the weather : Sunday should be another cold and grey day across the Czech Republic, with scattered rain and snow showers in the mountain regions. Day temp between 1 and 5 degs C. Nighttime lows - from two degs above to two below zero.
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