An audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers has shown that Czech ministries often fail to offer guarantees that money from EU funds would not go astray, according to the economics daily Hospodarske Noviny. The failing complicates the process of drawing on EU funds and thus damages the country's interests. Although the Finance Ministry ordered the audit on the understanding that its outcome would be made public, it is now keeping the results secret. An unnamed ministry source told the paper that the audit would not be made public until after the elections and after the shortcomings had been removed.
There is growing pressure on judges to make public the names of juvenile killers. There have been a series of murders committed by juveniles in recent months but the police and judges have refused to disclose their names since underage delinquents are protected by law. Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has said in response to growing public concern that the law actually allows judges to make an exception in cases of serious crimes - murder or assault - and that he would encourage them to do so.
The power giant CEZ, which employs some 7,000 people, is planning a big lay off in the coming months. CEZ spokesman said there would be large-scale changes ahead but he would not disclose how many people would be laid off, saying only that it would be "thousands rather than hundreds". The conglomerate is to be transformed into a holding company, comprising the parent and ten subsidiaries. The aim is to make the company's structure clearer, its management more effective and its services better, the spokesman said.
The Health Minister Milada Emmerova has warned local administrations to heighten security measures in and around hospitals in view of a possible bio-chemical attack. According to the CTK news agency, the minister has contacted all regional governors, asking them to take preventative and security measures and to pay particular attention to hospitals in their region. The country's intelligence service has confirmed that it is investigating a certain threat to hospitals.
A Czech organisation that has been fighting drug addiction for the past thirteen years has been promised eight million Czech crowns (some 100,000 Euros) from the EU budget to reduce drug addiction in Afghanistan. In the next two years and in cooperation with local partner organisations, the Podane Ruce (Helping Hand) organisation hopes to make a significant change with its "Breaking the Cycle" project. An estimated 30% of Afghanistan's population is addicted to opium. Experts believe that 80% of the world's heroin is produced in Afghanistan. There is currently only one hospital with 60 beds in the capital city of Kabul that is available to treat the country's drug addicts.
Swiss President Joseph Deiss is currently in the Czech Republic on a two-day official visit. Mr Deiss met with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, as well as other senior politicians on Monday. Unlike the Czech Republic, famously neutral Switzerland is neither an EU member nor part of NATO. However, it plans to divide one million Swiss francs (over 650,000 euros) among the new EU member states to help balance out economic differences within the union. In the Czech Republic such financial support could be used to improve infrastructure, research, and the promotion of technology education.
During a presentation of her ten-point health care plan on Monday, Health Minister Milada Emmerova said her top priority is to guarantee all citizens health care that is affordable, in their locality, and in time. The new concept was presented to doctors and journalists in the northern Moravian town of Decin. Mrs. Emmerova also rejected claims of some doctors that the health ministry plans to nationalise private surgeries. The health minister hopes to achieve these goals with the help of a nationwide network of hospitals and more effective financing. Doctors, however, are sceptical, saying the new concept is too general and will not help tackle the problem areas in the health sector.
This Monday, November 1, the European arrest warrant will be adopted in the Czech Republic. This will allow for Czech citizens, suspected of serious crimes, to be extradited to an EU state and tried abroad. The crimes involved include terrorism, people trafficking, murder, hijacking, rape, and the sexual abuse of children. The aim of the EU arrest warrant is to help tackle cross-border crime, prevent criminals from eluding prosecution, and help in the fight against terrorism and organized crime.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, criticised Czech
Police Chief Jiri Kolar in a TV discussion programme on Sunday and said the
police are politically controlled. Last week, the police chief admitted
that widespread bugging was normal police practice and added that it is
nothing to concern people with a clear conscience.
In reaction to his remarks, President Vaclav Klaus and opposition Civic Democratic Party deputies have called on Mr Kolar to resign. While Mr Kalousek agrees, he notes Mr Kolar's resignation will not make a difference as the whole police force is politically controlled and the country's interior ministers have done nothing about it.
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