Figures released by the Czech Statistics Office show that in January the Czech Republic posted a foreign trade surplus of 11.2 billion crowns (467 million dollars). According to the Statistics Office the result was driven by exports of cars and machinery. The CTK news agency says analysts had predicted a marked surplus of exports over imports.
The Constitutional Court has ruled against invalidating an article of the law that allows the government to de-regulate rents gradually. The Court was dealing with the case on the grounds of a complaint from house owners who claim that the ceilings on rents are so low that they do not collect enough money to cover maintenance costs. The Constitutional Court ruled that although the respective article of the law would not be abolished the courts themselves could begin the process of rent-deregulation by judging complaints on a case by case basis. Czech house owners have filed more than 3,000 complaints with the European Court of Human Rights over rent-deregulation.
The lower house of Parliament has put off voting on a same-sex registered partnership bill until next Tuesday. The bill which would legalize gay marriages in the Czech Republic had already passed through both houses of Parliament but President Klaus' veto sent it back to the lower house. The bill's advocates would need a majority of 101 votes to override the president's veto, and have postponed the vote in order to make sure that as many deputies as possible are present.
A Czech court on Tuesday fined two former football referees 70,000 koruna (around 2,400 euros) for their part in trying to fix the result of a first division league game in November 2003. Lubomir Pucek, a former referee and the current sporting manager of first division Czech football club Slavia Prague, and Jiri Vodicka were sentenced by a court in Havirov, in the east of the Czech Republic. Vodicka also received a two-year ban from refereeing any games. Both men have said they will appeal the verdict.
Czech ski jumper Jakub Janda placed eighth at the World Cup ski jump event in Finland on Tuesday. The only other Czech to make it to the second round was Borek Sedlak who came in 30th. The victory went to Andreas Kuttel from Switzerland who defended his lead in the first round with a 129 metres jump.
The police president Vladislav Husak wants to crack down on corruption inside the police force. He unveiled on Tuesday a package of anti-corruption measures which include built in cameras at police stations and in police cars and equipment which would enable drivers to pay fines with their credit cards. The aim is for there to be as few transactions in cash as possible, Mr. Husak said. An anti-corruption hot line is already in operation and a special commission is to be set up to deal with individual cases.
The number of Czechs who contribute to charities is on the rise. Four out five Czechs said in a poll they had contributed to some humanitarian organization in the course of the last two years. Seventy percent of people polled said they now contribute to charities regularly, that's up from 45 percent in 2004. The increase in solidarity has been apparent ever since the tsunami disaster in south east Asia when Czechs collected a record sum of money in emergency aid.
The EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou has met Czech health ministry officials in Prague to discuss measures concerning a potential outbreak of bird flu, among them the country's emergency plan and strategic stockpiles of antiviral drugs and other medicines. According to the Czech Chief Hygiene Officer Michael Vit, Mr Kyprianou said the Czech Republic was well prepared for a potential epidemic of bird flu.
Some members of the opposition Civic Democrats have accused Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek of taking political advantage of the bill on registered partnerships of same-sex couples due to be voted on by the lower house this week. In a statement released on Monday, they said Mr Paroubek is trying to politically appropriate the bill and to present himself as its sole guarantor, which, as they said, may discourage some Civic Democrat deputies from voting for the bill. Both the lower house and the Senate have passed the bill, but president Vaclav Klaus vetoed it last month. To override the veto, the lower house now needs a majority of 101 votes in the 200-seat chamber.