The 2006 state budget posted a 97. 3 billion crown deficit in public
spending, which is over 13 billion crowns higher than expected, the
Finance Ministry said on Tuesday. Parliament originally approved a
deficit of 74.4 billion crowns, but the figure was later revised to
83.7 billion. The ministry said lower tax and social insurance revenues
were to blame. The target was also exceeded as a result of lawmakers
transferring cash to regional government coffers from funds earmarked
for mandatory government spending.
The Czech government no longer counts on adopting the European single currency by the original target date of 2010 but has not set any new deadline. In order to adopt the euro, governments must meet strict EU targets for public debt, deficits and inflation.
The proposed centre-right government was high on the agenda of a New Years' luncheon between Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday. The president expressed reservations both with regard to its line up and the fact that the prime minister has not secured majority support for it in the lower house. Despite his critical stand, the president is bound by the constitution to appoint whatever government the prime minister proposes. The prime minister will then have thirty days in which to ask the lower house for a vote of confidence. The Czech Republic has been without a stable government since the last general elections ended in stalemate last June.
There are now more than 200 registered homosexual partnerships in the Czech Republic, a daily newspaper reported on Tuesday. A new law allowing gay and lesbian couples similar rights to married couples came into effect on July 1. Jiri Hromada of the Gay Initiative said they had expected much less interest in registered partnerships.
Senators for the Civic Democratic Party on Tuesday expressed support for the three-party coalition government and called for party unity. Chairman of the Senate Premysl Sobotka said that the Civic Democrats must now present a united front in order to implement the party's policy programme and maintain a high level of public support.
The line-up of the proposed centre-right coalition government involving the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens is to be finalized later today at a meeting of the Christian Democratic Party's executive leadership. One of the party's candidates for a ministerial post rejected the offer at the eleventh hour necessitating a last minute shake-up in one or two posts.
Some 49 percent of Czechs are in favour of the Olympic Games being held in Prague, suggests a new poll released by the STEM agency. The Czech capital is set to decide this year whether to bid to host the Olympics in 2016 or - if that bid fails - in 2020. The Prague city authority is due to set up a special committee to examine the issue.
The Civic Democratic Party is divided over the proposed government. In
recent days the prime minister has come under fire from his own party
members for allegedly making too many concessions to the Christian
Democrats and the Greens. On Saturday the prime minister slammed one of
his leading critics - the party's deputy chairman and mayor of Prague
Pavel Bem, saying that his stand stemmed from economic rather than
political interests. In Saturday's edition of the Czech daily Lidove
Noviny, Mr. Topolanek suggested that Mr. Bem's past cooperation with
the Social Democrats in the City Hall involved some dubious agreements
and that he was now pushing for a similar model on the national level.
The remarks have provoked outrage at Prague City Hall and Mr. Bem has
demanded a public apology.
The Civic Democratic Party's deputies group is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the conditions of the government deal. The party's leadership will be asked to explain why it failed to lay claim to key cabinet posts such as the finance and foreign ministries.
An estimated 10,000 people attended a free concert on Prague's
Wenceslas Square on New Year's Eve. The show, which was broadcast live
on TV Nova, featured almost 200 singers and musicians. Police said the
event had passed off peacefully.
Elsewhere the city's rescue workers had their busiest New Year's Eve in five years; they were called out to investigate almost 300 cases of injury, mostly due to alcohol.