Forty-four percent of Czechs would be willing to pay extra in cash at doctors surgeries, according to a poll by the Median agency quoted in Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes. The governing Social Democrats are opposed to cash payments for medical treatment. However, doctors' leader David Rath - one of three candidates for the job of health minister - says he is in favour.
Polish prosecutors investigating the purchase of the Czech Unipetrol oil group by Poland's PKN Orlen have asked for permission to question 15 people in the Czech Republic, a spokesperson for the Krakow state attorney's office said on Friday. Unofficial sources suggest the 15 include the Czech minister of finance, Bohuslav Sobotka, and former prime minister Stanislav Gross. The new management of PKN Orlen says it has uncovered evidence of secret payoffs to Czech politicians.
The lower house has voted to tighten regulations on seasonal sales in shops. Under the new legislation there would be set dates for the beginning and end of sales in chain stores. Furthermore, if goods are advertised at specially reduced prices retailers would have to either have sufficient numbers of the goods in stock, or announce how many they have.
The Czech football team will play Norway for a place in next year's World Cup finals in Germany. The first of two play-off games takes place in Oslo on November 12th, with the second in Prague or Teplice four days later. Czech coach Karel Bruckner said after Friday's draw that he was not familiar with the Norwegian team, but said the fact the second leg was at home would be an advantage for his players. The Czechs last reached the World Cup in 1990.
Police has once again shelved the case of the flooding of Prague metro in August 2002. No one will be prosecuted for the 7-billion-crown damage caused by the flood even though investigation revealed construction faults in several stations. The investigators were unable to determine who was responsible for the construction of the stations back in the 1970s.
The government has approved measures aimed at boosting the country's record-low birth rate by allowing maternity leave for up to eight years after a child's birth and boosting fathers' roles, the Labour Ministry has announced. Under the new plan, mothers would be able to take their three-year maternity leave not only during the first 36 months of their child's life, as now, but at any time until the child is eight years old. The national family concept agreed by the government late on Wednesday also entitles fathers to receive financial support if they decide to care for the child at home or take time off work if their child is ill.
Representatives of a Polish prosecutor's office have met their Czech colleagues in Prague to discuss cooperation in the investigation into alleged corruption in the privatisation of the Czech petrochemical company Unipetrol, the Prague City State Attorney's Office said. According to unofficial information, the Polish prosecutors will also want to interrogate leading Czech politicians, including Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and ex-prime minister Stanislav Gross, both from the ruling Social Democrats.
The Czech Republic has banned all imports of live poultry, birds and related commodities from Romania where tests have confirmed the bird flu virus in farm poultry. The Czech State Veterinary Office says it is stepping up preventative measures. The Health Ministry has held talks with pharmaceutical companies about the supply of some 2 million vaccines against bird flu, which will be developed once a human-to-human transmittable virus emerges.