The Czech Anti-Monopoly Office has launched administrative proceedings against three of the country's biggest banks. Ceska Sporitelna, Komercni Banka, and CSOB are suspected of concluding a cartel agreement on bank charges. The three banks charge much higher fees than in most other EU member states. If the banks are proven guilty, they can face a fine of up to ten million Czech crowns (some 420,000 US dollars) or amounting to ten percent of profits recorded in 2004.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament has proposed to stop the activities or dissolve some 54 political parties and movements. They are said to have broken the law by failing to forward the entire or part of their business management reports for 2004 to the lower house. The lower house has therefore asked the government to propose to the Supreme Administrative Court to end the activities of 38 of the political groupings and dissolve 16 of them, which are no longer active. The parties and movements involved - some took part in the last elections - include the ultra-right Republicans of Miroslav Sladek and the Roma Civic Initiative.
The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek faced a question-and-answer session
in the lower house of parliament on Thursday ahead of Friday's confidence
vote in Mr Paroubek's new coalition government. Among the topics that Mr
Paroubek had to defend his position on were the privatisation of Czech
Telecom and the future leadership of the government's anti-drug
commission. Mr Paroubek was named prime minister last month, after his
predecessor Stanislav Gross resigned.
While both opposition parties, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats and the Communists, have said they would not support the new coalition in Friday's no-confidence vote, Mr Paroubek is confident that all 101 government deputies in the 200-seat lower house will unanimously vote in favour of the coalition.
The Czech Republic's ice hockey team have made it to the semi-finals of the World Championships in Vienna after beating the United States 3:2 on Thursday. The teams battled to a 2-2 tie after regulation time and a 10 minute overtime period, before heading into penalty shots at which Martin Rucinsky was the only one of 10 shooters to score. The Czech Republic will face the winner of Thursday's Sweden-Switzerland quarter final in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus has signed an amendment to the employment law prohibiting what is called the Schwarz System, where companies employ people with trade licenses to do work that regular staff members are capable of doing. The amendment is to help define illegal outsourcing more clearly. President Klaus also signed a bill into law on Thursday that provides compensation to victims of the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia. Depending on how badly they were affected, victims or their surviving relatives will receive between 30,000 and 150,000 crowns (1,300-6,300 US dollars) from the state.
Railway workers unions have called off the possibility of a general strike for at least the next one hundred days as they allow new management at Czech Railways to consider their proposals. The unions have expressed concern - and threatened to strike - over the possibility of excessive lay-offs in line with Czech Railway's long-term business plans. An estimated 6,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs this year, the same number as in 2004. Overall Czech Railways employs close to 70, 000 people.
The Czech Republic beat Belarus 5:1 in their last game in the group phases of the Ice Hockey World Championships in Vienna on Tuesday evening. On Thursday the Czechs play the USA in the quarter-finals of the competition. It will be a chance for revenge for the Czech team, who were knocked out by the Americans at the same stage of the competition in Prague last year.
The new Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has laid out the policy
programme of his coalition government. At a news conference in Prague on
Tuesday, the prime minister said its main objective would be to ratify the
European Union Constitution. He said he hoped the issue would be put to a
public referendum at the same time as general elections next summer. The
prime minister also said he would support exports and small and
Mr Paroubek's new government faces its first test on Friday, when it will undergo a vote of confidence. The prime minister says he is positive it will receive the backing of all 101 government deputies.
The Olga Havlova Award has been presented to a group called Zrcadlo (Mirror), which shares its experiences of mental health problems with other sufferers. The committee of the Olga Havlova Goodwill Committee also paid tribute to Kuman Vishwanathan, an Indian man who set up a "Coexistence Village" to encourage white Czechs and Romanies to live together in north Moravia. Olga Havlova, the highly respected wife of former president Vaclav Havel, died of cancer in 1996.
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