Consumer tax on cigarettes will be raised significantly in April next year, the Czech cabinet decided on Monday. A pack of cigarettes is to cost six crowns more in 2005 and an additional seven crowns in 2006. Economists have estimated that a family in which each parent smokes a pack a day, would find itself spending some 9,500 crowns - or over 350 US dollars - more a year on cigarettes.
The Afghan armed forces are to receive six thousand tonnes of ammunition that is no longer used by the Czech Army. The proposal to save costs on storage by shipping redundant ammunition to Afghanistan was approved by the government on Monday after several weeks of discussion. Since the United States have agreed to cover transport costs, the Czech Republic will be disposing of the ammunition at no cost. It would have cost the state 50 million Czech crowns to put it in storage, and 350 million crowns (over 11 million US dollars) to dispose of it. The one million pieces of ammunition will include bullets and cartridges, hand grenades, and various types of shells.
The joint Czech-Slovak Modra Hranice or Blue Border Air Force began its first day of training on Monday. The force of 34 pilots, military operators and control officers will be training on both Czech and Slovak soil until Thursday. The exercises are part of the Joint Sky project, aimed at preparing both NATO member states for crisis situations.
Bilateral relations between the Czech Republic and New Zealand should primarily focus on education and business, according to New Zealand's Governor General Silvia Cartwright. Mrs Cartwright is currently on an official visit to the Czech Republic. At Prague Castle on Monday, she and Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed an agreement on work stays, under which Czechs between the ages of 18 and 30 would be granted short-term work permits in New Zealand.
Mrs Cartwright, who is accompanied by her husband Peter, also had lunch with Senate Chairman Petr Pithart and visited Prague's most prominent landmarks.
Czechoslovak war veterans gathered in Prague on Monday to remember their participation in WWII operations. On the occasion of two anniversaries, the veterans shared their memories of Dunkirk and the battle at Tobruk in North Africa. Following the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, thousands of Czechoslovak soldiers joined foreign military operations during the Second World War and fought mainly under British and Soviet leadership.
Tuesday is expected to have cloudy skies with rain throughout the country. Day-time temperatures will range from 7 to 11 degrees Celsius.
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