The government on Wednesday approved the sale of the state-owned plane manufacturer Aero Vodochody to the investment group Penta for the price of 2.91 billion crowns. The second highest bid by the consortium PPF and JT was 1,2 billion crowns lower. Penta sees Aero's main potential in cooperating with leading world producers of aircraft and aircraft parts. It now has three restructuring priorities: development and production of aircraft and components within broader cooperation projects, construction of airport Vodochody and cooperation with the Czech army.
Czech lawmakers have approved the main lines of the 2007 state budget in its first reading, overcoming political stalemate which has gripped the country since June's legislative elections. The budget proposal, which counts on a deficit of 91.3 billion crowns (3.22 billion euros, 4.05 billion dollars) was backed by all the parties represented in the lower house with the exception of the Communists. The budget was proposed by the caretaker Civic Democrat government. Last-minute support was won from the second-biggest party, the Social Democrats, with a promise that further consultations would take place before the sale of any shares in Czech power giant, CEZ. The budget must go through three readings in the lower house and then be approved by the president before it becomes law.
The Czech state-controlled carrier Czech Airlines says it carried 4.2 million passengers in the first nine months of the year, a 5-percent rise compared with the same period in 2005. The airline said the increase was largely due to highter demand on routes to Eastern Europe. CSA reported a loss of 773 million crowns (27.3 million euros, 34.3 million dollars) in the first half of the year compared with 533 million koruna in the same period a year earlier. The company is implementing a plan to break even by 2008 that includes the sale of none-core assets such as its catering division and Prague cargo terminal.
The chairman of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has called on MP Michal
Pohanka who left the ranks of the party on Wednesday to give up his seat in
the lower house. He alleged that Mr Pohanka was being blackmailed by the
police on the orders of the ruling Civic Democratic Party. The Civic
Democrats have dismissed such allegations. An internet news server on
Wednesday quoted Mr Pohanka as saying he felt pressure from his own party,
not the police.
The Civic Democratic Party issued a statement on Wednesday saying that whatever Mr. Pohanka's reasons for leaving the party they did not intend to exploit the situation and, as they said "rely on one turncoat". Every vote now plays a decisive role in the 200 seat lower house which is equally divided between the right and left-wing parties with 100 votes each. The Czech Republic has been without a stable government since elections in June.
Monaco striker Jan Koller is out for up to two months after injuring the same right hamstring that sidelined him during the World Cup finals this summer, the Czech daily Sport reports. The 33-year-old Czech international record scorer hurt his leg during Monaco's defeat on penalties to Stade de Reims in a French League Cup match on Tuesday. The 2.04-metre (6ft 7in) tall striker moved to Monaco on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund over the summer after recovering from a serious knee injury he incurred last September. He has since scored once in 11 appearances for his new club.
The Foreign Ministry has announced that three young Czechs were detained at Buenos Aires international airport on Sunday on suspicion of drug trafficking. According to Czech diplomats in Argentina, several grams of cocaine were found on the men. Forty-five Czech nationals are known to have been arrested outside the country in connection with drug-related crime since January, which is the highest number in the last three years.
The lower house on Wednesday rejected the Communist Party's proposal that a referendum should decide about the possibility of hosting a US missile base on Czech territory. The Communist Party said the bill would be re-drafted in line with the objections voiced and would be put to the lower house again at the earliest possible date. Although the United States has not yet made a decision on where it would like to station its planned missile base, the Czech Republic is still in the running. Unlike the Social Democrats and Communists, the governing Civic Democrats are not opposed to having a US missile base on Czech territory. On the other hand, public opinion polls indicate that the majority of Czechs are not happy about the idea.
The Civic Democratic Party on Tuesday failed to push through a more lenient form of the road law. The proposed changes evoked heated debate in the lower house with proponents of the law arguing that the strict new norms had saved dozens of lives since July and any step back now would destroy all it had achieved. The Civic Democrats on the other hand believe that the new points system is too strict and opens the door to corruption. In the end there was general agreement that the law should remain in force for some time longer so that its effect could be properly assessed.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer has sent his family abroad for fear of their safety after receiving anonymous threats which the police classified as "very serious". One of the anonymous letters said the interior minister's family home in Olomouc would be blown up. The minister himself is getting heightened protection until the case has been resolved. One of the theories is that the threats could be connected with a recent leak of information from police files, which the Social Democrats claim to have damaged their chances in the elections.
President Vaclav Klaus on Wednesday met with the speaker of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek, in the last of a series of consultations on forming a new government. As speaker Miloslav Vlcek is legally entitled to pick the third prime minister designate, if two previous attempts to form a government should fail. However, in line with an earlier political agreement, Mr. Vlcek has agreed to forego this right. He reiterated this position following Wednesday's meeting with the president, saying he would resign in the wake of two unsuccessful attempts to form a cabinet. President Klaus is expected to name a new prime minister designate after the second round of Senate elections next weekend.
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