The central bank has warned that the Czech Republic faces growing
uncertainty over its public finances amid a two-month deadlock over who
will form its next government. Bank members highlighted "major
uncertainty" over fiscal policy, in particular over public spending, in
the minutes of a recent board meeting. The board said it was impossible
to determine the direction of fiscal policy in the current
circumstances. Elections on June 2-3 for the lower house of parliament
resulted in an even split between centre-right and left-wing blocs,
with each getting 100 votes in the 200-seat assembly.
The outgoing Social Democrat government, meanwhile, has proposed a budget that shows a deficit of 88 billion crowns (the equivalent of almost 4 billion US dollars) for 2007. The Civic Democrats' Vlastimil Tlusty said Friday in an interview fro the newspaper Pravo on Friday that the deficit was more likely to be around twice that level at 173 billion crowns. That, Mr Tlusty warned, would scuttle Czech plans to adopt the single European currency in 2010.
The leader of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has met with President
Vaclav Klaus to discuss possible solutions to the political stalemate that
has gripped the country since the national election in June ended with an
equally divided parliament. On Friday Mr Topolanek - whose party won the
election - asked Mr Klaus to officially allow him to form the next
government. He has in mind a Civic Democratic minority government that
would seek support from all parliamentary parties except the Communists
but including closest election rivals the Social Democrats.
Mr Topolanek stressed that if politicians weren't able to agree on such a solution, another option would be early elections.
So far, the president has decided not to broaden Mr Topolanek's mandate, opting to wait for further negotiations between the two largest parties.
Friday's developments, in any case, appear to be a final departure from Mr Topolanek's earlier plan to form a government with two other parties - the Christian Democrats and the Greens, which lacked a governing majority. It was categorically rejected by political rivals.
The lower house of parliament has set a new date for its next attempt to try and elect a new speaker: August 14th, in other words, in ten days. All candidates for the post will be nominated by August 11th. So far, the lower chamber has made five attempts to elect a chairman since a new parliament was elected, but without success. Following two months of deadlock, Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek launched new talks with outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek this week to try to negotiate a solution. Negotiations between the two are set to take place over the next two weeks.
Thirty people have been charged with illegally importing municipal waste from neighbouring Germany, allegedly making illegal profits in the tens of millions of crowns. According to district state attorney Zdenka Bendova, four of the thirty were key figures, leasing a farm in Libceves, north Bohemia, where several thousand tonnes of municipal waste were secretly stored between September 2005 and March 2006, when it was discovered that the site housed hazardous material. Other illegal dumps were also uncovered. The accused claim to have only imported material for recycling. Two have been remanded in custody, and it is possible that still more individuals will be charged.
In related news, the Christian Democrats have made clear that while
they preferred continued coalition cooperation with the Civic Democrats
and the Greens to find a way out of the post-election stalemate, the
Civic Democrats under Mirek Topolanek should be allowed to explore a
number of ways out of the political crisis. The Christian Democrats'
Miroslav Kalousek told reporters that his party "wanted to contribute
to the quickest possible and most effective solution".
By comparison, following Mr Topolanek's meeting with the president, the Green Party's Martin Bursik at a press conference called on the other parties to now meet to officially dissolve their coalition. Mr Bursik said that following developments the project "no longer made sense", stressing that it was now important to negotiate terms for early elections.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament should decide on Friday on when
the next attempt at electing its speaker will take place. No one has been
nominated as yet and the situation from the third and fourth vote, when
the deputies met, but the vote did not take place, will repeat on Friday.
The leaders of the two largest parties in parliament, Civic Democrat Mirek
Topolanek and Social Democrat Jiri Paroubek have said they want to continue
negotiating until next week and proceed with the lower house chairman
election afterwards. Parliament sources have told the CTK news agency that
the lower house meeting could resume on August 11 or 14.
It has been two months since national elections in June resulted in a political stalemate, and efforts at a three-party coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens leave these parties one seat short of a governing majority. In recent days, the second largest party, the Social Democrats, have indicated strong opposition to the three-party coalition, thus rendering its possible government highly unlikely.
The numbers of sheep and goats have increased in the Czech Republic after a marked drop in the 1990s. According to the Czech sheep and goat farmers association, the numbers have increased by 80 percent in the last six years, mainly thanks to subsidies. The association's chairman Vit Mares says, however, that the flocks are small, 50 head on average, whereas in other European countries some farms keep from 1000 to 5000 animals. Also, consumption of lamb and mutton is extremely low in the Czech Republic. Mr Mares says it is caused by the low and irregular supply throughout the year.
Staying with Slovan Liberec, the club have confirmed the signing of Costa Rican striker Winston Parks on a two-year contract. The 24-year-old international, formerly with Locomotiv Moscow, said the Liberec signing represented "an opportunity for a new start" and was looking forward to the chance to play again in the Champions' League. Parks made his debut for the full Costa Rican squad in 2001 and played in the qualifying games for this year's World Cup in Germany. He has played in Europe since 2003 when he was signed by Italy's Udinese.
The public service Czech Television has said it will launch a new programme as of September on its news channel CT24 which will give more space to smaller political parties not represented in parliament. The weekly programme called Spektrum will be first broadcast on Saturday, September 9. A spokesman said the programme will reflect the whole political spectrum, hence its name. Czech Television was criticised at the time of the June national elections for providing too little air time to smaller political subjects, which the parties found discriminatory.
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