Czech President Vaclav Klaus has signed the state budget law for 2005. The
law envisages a deficit of 84 billion Czech crowns. However, opposition
parties and most economists say the deficit will be much higher, over 100
billion crowns, once the state has covered the losses of the Czech bailout
agency, Ceska Konsolidacni Agentura, which primarily ensures the
privatisation of state-owned companies.
Mr Klaus also signed an amendment to the income tax law on Wednesday. The new law introduces tax relief for families with children, joint taxation of married couples, and faster depreciation of assets for businesses. The government says it would help families and companies save tens of billions of crowns in the coming years.
Czech breweries expect to export a record 2.4 million hectolitres of beer this year. The Chairman of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, Jan Vesely, said on Wednesday this would be up by 12 per cent from 2003, adding that breweries are preparing a campaign to promote their beer abroad. Germany, Slovakia, Great Britain and the USA, are the main importers of Czech beer. On average, exports rise by between five and twenty percent year- on-year.
The European Commission has concluded that the Czech Republic, along
with Cyprus, Malta, Poland and Slovakia, are on track for correcting
their excessive deficits. In July, the European Council recommended
they take effective action to control their budget deficits. The
Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, said on
Wednesday, he was pleased to see the recommendations taken seriously,
adding that they are appropriate for periods of high growth such as
those experienced by the EU states in question.
Taking into account the initial level of the deficit and the ongoing structural shift related to the convergence process, the Council recommended that the excessive deficit be corrected by 2008 in the Czech Republic.
The Ostrava Regional Court has found a 23 year-old Czech woman guilty of dealing in heroin and has sentenced her to eight years in prison. Her twelve Vietnamese accomplices are to be expelled and face jail sentences between nine and ten years. Two of Vietnamese nationals were staying in the Czech Republic illegally. Police say the heroin sold by the gang would have been worth close to two million crowns (some 66,500 euros) on the black market.
The vacant position of head of the Czech Republic's Supreme Audit Office is unlikely to be filled during the term of the current government, Labour Minister Zdenek Skromach said on Tuesday. He said the three parties in the coalition were unable to agree on a replacement for Lubomir Volenik, who died almost 18 months ago.
Around 20,000 litres of radioactive water leaked out of the Temelin nuclear power plant in the southwest of the Czech Republic on Monday. According to a spokesman, the leak, caused by a water-level measuring problem in a reservoir, was contained within a limited area and did not pose a risk to the environment or to workers' health. Temelin's opponents say it is unsafe and should be shut down.
The last 2,000 conscripts in the Czech Army are due to leave their barracks on Wednesday, ending 140 years of compulsory military service in the Czech Lands. Throughout the year the Army has gradually been replacing conscripts with career soldiers. The move makes the Czech Republic one of the first countries in the region with a professional military. However, Joint Forces Commander Josef Sedlak warned on Tuesday of overly high expectations of the new army. He also said professionals could expect tougher training than their conscript counterparts.
Mobile phone operator Eurotel has failed in a court appeal against a fine of 48 million crowns (over 1.5 million euros) for abusing its dominant position on the Czech market. Eurotel and another operator Radiomobil were found guilty in 2002 of charging customers more for calls to a third operator than between their own networks.