The head of the VZP, the largest state-owned health insurance company, faces dismissal if she fails to take steps to get the company out of its bad financial situation. According to health minister David Rath, who was named into the post on Friday, VZP management - which is battling with growing debt - has not been cooperating with other administrations and fails to fulfil tasks that are stated by law. He says he fears the days of Jirina Musilkova (VZP director) are numbered if she does not improve the company's finances in the next few weeks.
The Czech Republic's Land Fund will review around fifty-five real estate contracts closed from June 7 to July 1. The Fund, which primarily manages state-owned real estate, is looking into allegations that it transferred some 600 hectares of lucrative land to speculators, in deals that profited them two billion crowns. The deputy director of the Fund's executive committee, Karel Machovec, says two employees have already been fired in connection with the affair. The opposition Civic Democrats called onto agriculture minister Petr Zgarba, who chairs the Fund, to resign from the post of minister last week.
The member of the lower house of parliament and former transport minister, Martin Riman, has proposed to move some ministries and state institutions from Prague to the north Moravian city of Ostrava. The opposition Civic Democrat says the decentralisation of important state administration bodies is the only way in which the wide gap between the wealthy capital city Prague and the rest of the country can be reduced. The idea has been dismissed by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek.
The deputy leader of the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Ivan Langer, has called on to interior minister Frantisek Bublan to resign. In a Czech TV discussion programme on Sunday, he accused Mr Bublan of failing in key areas, primarily the passing of a new service law and the stabilisation of the police force. With officers not trusting their superiors, lacking guidance, and being highly inefficient, the police force is in deep crisis, Mr Langer says.
The Technical University in the North Bohemian town of Liberec says it may help reduce the spread of bird flu during a possible pandemic. Its technology that allows the mass commercial production of nanofibres (ultra-thin fibres that are just one billionth of a metre wide) can be used to make breathing masks. Filters made from nanofibres are extremely efficient because they have such tiny pores that no bacteria or viruses can pass through. The project is already in the testing stage.
The Salvation Army celebrated fifteen years in the Czech Republic with
a procession down Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday. The
organisation, which is dedicated to helping the needy, was once active
in Czechoslovakia before the Second World War but was banned when Nazi
Germany occupied the country in 1939. Since it resumed its activities
fifteen years ago, it has set up offices in nine Czech towns and
Besides community centres, the Salvation Army has night dormitories, half-way houses, and runs two farms employing people serving alternative prison punishments.
Leading Swiss health care experts are in Prague this weekend to share
their experiences and help their Czech counterparts with the ailing health
care system. Switzerland is known to have one of the best and most liberal
health care systems in Europe. But, just like the Czech Republic, it is
battling problems with the financing of hospitals and growing debt, the
Swiss health minister Pascal Couchepin said at a conference on Saturday.
The newly appointed Czech health minister David Rath noted Czech health care reform is especially complicated - Switzerland has 600 billion crowns (some 24.5 billion US dollars) for a population of 7 million; the Czech Republic has a mere 200 billion crowns (some 8.2 billion US dollars) for its population of 10 million.
The financial situation of Czech households has improved by over ten percent when compared to last year, according to a study made by the Italian UniCredito group. Households in seven Central and Eastern European countries were reviewed and results suggest that Czech households are currently the richest in the region. However, those of Poland and Slovakia are quickly catching up. The study looked into bank savings, stock and bond investments, and also life insurance policies but did not include the real value of property, i.e. cars, land, and real estate.
The ruling Social Democratic party has recommended that its candidates in the 2006 general elections be required to sign the Code of Ethics. The document was drafted and presented to the chamber of deputies this week by the Chairman of the lower house Lubomir Zaoralek. It sets a framework for relations between politicians and lobbyists as well as ground rules regarding the acceptance of gifts by public officials and the practice of hiring family members as assistants. Deputies have been severely criticized for the above practices in recent years and a Code of Ethics is believed to have been long overdue. It is now up to individual deputies whether they sign it or not.
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