A record 600,000 cars were manufactured in the Czech Republic last year. Almost 500,000 of those vehicles were produced by Skoda Auto, with the rest made at a plant opened by Toyota and Peugeot Citroen last February. The Toyota-Peugeot Citroen plant has the capacity to make many more cars, up to 300,000 a year. A similar number could be produced by Hyundai, if it builds a plant in Moravia; a decision on that deal is due by the end of the month.
Speaking at a conference on 15 years of capitalism in the Czech Republic, President Vaclav Klaus said most Czechs did not want capitalism after the Velvet Revolution but were in favour of various "third ways". Mr Klaus - who was finance minister in the early 1990s - said this reluctance to embrace capitalism was hard to believe from today's perspective. Tuesday evening's conference was attended by several other key players in post-revolution Czechoslovak politics.
DNA tests which showed a gorilla born at Prague Zoo was male were wrong, say the organisers of a project in which the zoo's gorillas are shown live on the internet; they say new tests they ordered show that Moja, the first gorilla born in this country, is actually female, as was originally believed.
The biggest state health insurer, VZP, is to receive by the end of the week three billion crowns (120 million dollars) to help it pay its debts to doctors and hospitals. The health and finance ministers agreed on the move at a meeting on Wednesday. Currently there is a two-month delay in VZP payments, and this money is intended to shorten that period by around a week and a half. The health insurer has been in turmoil in recent months.
Companies would receive tax breaks for contributing towards holidays their employees spend in the Czech Republic under a proposal from Social Democrat MP Miroslav Svoboda. The daily Pravo reported that the contribution would amount to 10,000 crowns (around 400 US dollars) and said other Social Democrats backed the plan, which is aimed at supporting tourism in the Czech Republic.
General practitioners are once again threatening to strike in protest of delayed payments from the General Health Insurance Company, VZP. GPs say they are getting payments up to a month late despite the fact that the General Health Insurance Company is under forced administration, a move that the health minister David Rath said would secure financial stability. The health ministry is likewise under pressure from chemists who are threatening to strike over the government's decision to lower their profit margins by 3 percent as of January 1st. The opposition Civic Democrats have strongly criticized the health minister for his performance in office, saying that the radical measures he has effected have merely heightened the crisis in the Czech health sector.
The chief obstetrician of a maternity hospital stands charged with causing death through negligence after he ordered the transfer of a mother in labour to a different hospital where her baby was born stillborn. The state attorney on the case claims that a proper examination of the mother -including an ultrasound - would have shown that she needed immediate care and that further loss of time would put hers and the baby's life in danger. If found guilty, the obstetrician could face up to five years in prison.
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