The lower house of Parliament has approved the state budget for 2007 with a state income of 949.5 billion crowns (over 45 billion US dollars) but a 91.3 billion crown (an estimated 4.3 billion US dollars) deficit. Deputies from the Civic Democratic, Social Democratic, and Christian Democratic parties voted in favour of the budget, while the Communists and the Greens opposed it.
Police say they have broken up an international organised gang of people smugglers. The gang from Vietnam, China, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are suspected of having smuggled at least 700 illegal migrants from Asia to Europe since 2004. They are believed to have received a total of around 200 million crowns for the service.
The Executive Council of the Civic Democrats is holding a meeting to decide whether the party should form a government without the Social Democrats. Prime Minister and Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek met with the leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek and the Christian Democrats Jiri Cunek for final government talks but was unable to push through the introduction of a flat tax. Mr Topolanek, who was hoping to come to a compromise by Wednesday evening before he leaves for an EU summit in Brussels, is expected to present President Vaclav Klaus with his proposed list of new ministers on Friday.
Prague's Ruzyne airport has handled a record number of passengers this year. It passed the 11 million mark for the first time on Wednesday. The airport expects to handle 11.5 million passengers by the end of the year; last year the total number of passengers reached 10.8 million. The airport launched its new 10 billion crown (over 470 million US dollars) North-2 terminal in January.
The Social Democrats suspect that one of their deputies has been bribed by the Civic Democrats, who are in the process of forming a new government. Deputy Milos Melcak recently left the deputies' group in parliament saying he was facing pressure from party colleagues for voicing that the party should go into opposition. Mr Melcak has not ruled out that he might vote for the new government of Prime Minister and Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek regardless of his party's stance.
A group of Austrian environmentalists are threatening to block up to six Czech-Austrian border crossings this weekend. The activists will stage the blockade if the Austrian parliament fails to approve a resolution that favours filing a law suit against the Czech Republic over the Temelin nuclear power plant. The activists say the Temelin plant in south Bohemia - just 50 km from the Austrian border - is not safe and should never have been put into operation.
Otakar Motejl has been re-elected Ombudsman by the lower house of Parliament. Mr Motejl stood against three candidates put forward by the president - former rector of the Czech Technical University in Prague Jiri Witzany, human rights activist John Bok, and senator Jitka Seitlova. Mr. Motejl is already serving a six year term which ends on December 18.
The government has approved a bill on the Integrated Pollution Register - the country's "inventory" of chemical emissions. The new bill broadens the list of pollutants that companies have to register if they release them into the environment. If the bill is approved by the Senate and signed by the President, the number of registered pollutants will be raised from 72 to 93 as of 2008.
The EU transport ministers, who were to negotiate on the seat of the
Galileo European satellite navigation system on Tuesday, have not made
a decision. Before the talks, Czech Ambassador to Brussels Jan Kohout
said the Czech Republic was prepared to block them if the new member
states were not considered as host countries. It appears that the old
member states have a secret agreement to seat Galileo in one of their
countries, Mr Kohout said.
The Galileo system is a joint initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency and would rival the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). Prague is among the states that have made a bid to host Galileo, which is to be launched in 2008.
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