The Social Democratic Party has threatened to expel former prime minister
Stanislav Gross from its ranks if he fails to explain how he acquired
shares reportedly worth 300 million Czech crowns or 15 million US dollars
in the power company Moravia Energo. Party vice-chairman Bohuslav Sobotka
told journalists at the weekend that action would be taken against Mr Gross
if he could not satisfactorily rebuff allegations that he used insider
information gleaned while in politics to acquire the shares for a fraction
of their estimated market value.
The former primer minister denies any wrongdoing and says the price of the shares quoted by the press is massively overvalued. Mr Gross left politics two years ago after failing to explain where he got 1.2 million crowns to purchase a luxury apartment in Prague.
A new survey suggests that Czechs go to the doctor more frequently and use more unnecessary medicines than most other European nations. The research carried out by the Fakta agency found that Czechs pay an average of nearly 16 visits to their doctor per year, which is around twice the rate of neighbouring countries such as Austria and Germany. According to the analysis more than 20 billion Czech crowns or around 1 billion US dollars are annually squandered in the health service due to a waste of resources and corruption. The survey was commissioned by the government, which wants to use it as the basis for an all-party debate on future funding for the public healthcare system.
The Czech children's film Maharal directed by Pavel Jandourek has won the audience prize at the prestigious Carrousel film festival in Romouski, Canada. Earlier in the year, this magical adventure story featuring historical figures from Rudolphine Prague such as the Rabbi Loew also picked up the audience prize at the Zlin international festival.
The Czech Statistical Office (CSU) has released information indicating that the Czech public-spending deficit fell to 2.69% of GDP in 2006 as opposed to 3.49% in 2005. According to the CSU, the Czech public-finance deficit fell year-on-year by 17.4 billion CZK to 86.9 billion CZK in 2006. The figure is now below the crucial 3% limit set for euro adoption.
The Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry has announced that the
investment-development agency Czech Invest and the export-support agency
Czech Trade will pool the resources of their foreign networks as of the
beginning of next year. The move will see both agencies use a combined
network of foreign offices to provide services to foreign investors and
The Minister for Trade and Industry Martin Riman stressed that both agencies were not merging but simply operating out of one office in territories where the two of them are represented. He added that the measure was being implemented as part of the government's long-term plans to streamline Czech economic diplomacy and that combining resources in this way would save the country 12-15 million Czech crowns per year.
Czech Invest currently has 9 foreign offices while Czech Trade has 32.The cities where both agencies will use the same office are Cologne, Paris, London, Dublin, Brussels, Rotterdam, Chicago and Chengdu.
Two women died near the south-Bohemian of Prachatice on Monday morning
after the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree. The
twenty-seven-year-old driver of the car was airlifted to hospital where his
condition has been described as critical. Police investigating the crash
say it appears as though the driver lost control of his vehicle after
falling asleep at the wheel.
The fatal accident follows on the heels of one of the worst months in the Czech Republic in recent years as regards road safety. 114 people died on Czech roads in September as opposed to 94 people last year with 16 people dying in car accidents last weekend alone.
In related news, the aktualne.cz news website has claimed that Mr Gross financed the purchase of shares in the Moravia Energo company using the Slovak financial consulting company Key Investments, which put up the money for the stock and will retain possession of the shares until Mr Gross repays it the money he owes, estimated to be 17 million crowns or 900,000 USD. Neither Mr Gross nor Key Investments would confirm or deny the accuracy of the report.
The Czech crown closed trading on Monday on all time record high of 19.28 CZK against the American dollar according to the Patria Online financial news website. The crown has been doing well in recent weeks against the dollar, which has been hit badly by fears of an economic slowdown in America. The low value of the dollar means that commodities such as petrol, gas and electronic goods are now much cheaper for Czechs although there are concerns that the crown's continuing strength against the dollar could hurt Czech exporters.
The Czech foreigners' police began a nationwide operation on Monday to clamp down on foreigners living illegally in this country. Around 350 police officers as well as customs and labour office officials have been carrying out checks at boarding houses, metro stations, building sites and factories in an effort to root out illegal foreigners. A police spokeswoman said the operation was aimed at ensuring that as many undesirable aliens as possible are apprehended before the Czech Republic joined the so-called Schengen zone at the start of next year. A similar operation last June uncovered 192 residency violations.
The Czech Police anti-organised crime squad say they have detained five people suspected of committing a series of robberies causing overall damage worth around 22 million crowns. A spokeswoman said the police unit had been monitoring the gang for more than a year and arrested three of its members in January. According to the police, the gang has been active in Central and South Bohemia since 2003. All five suspects have been remanded in custody and face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
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