The Czech economy grew by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2005, the growth slowing down from 4.6 percent in the last quarter of 2004, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Thursday, adding that it had revised last year's GDP growth from 4 to 4.4 percent and the growth for 2003 from 3.7 to 3.2 percent. The GDP growth in the first three months of 2005 was pulled by foreign trade which showed a record surplus of 22.8 billion crowns, the Czech Statistical Office said.
The Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Martin Jahn said that he expected Czech GDP growth this year to again exceed 4 percent on high exports in particular, adding that exports have grown also thanks to the country's accession to the EU last year. Mr Jahn also said that for economic growth to accelerate further, investments in education, research and development and transport infrastructure were necessary. The Czech GDP has grown faster than Poland's (2.1 percent) and Hungary's (2.9 percent), but slower than Slovakia's (5.1 percent).
The Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba is prepared to resign if police prove he broke the law by helping an East Bohemian village to get a state subsidy, Mr Zgarba told journalists on Thursday. The press recently wrote that Mr Zgarba had arranged a subsidy for the village of Lipa-Petrkov to modernise its infrastructure. Part of the money reportedly went for a sewerage system to lead to the property where Mr Zgarba's family plans to manage a spa. Originally, the subsidy was to be used for the reconstruction of old sewerage, pavements and the construction of a water treatment plant in the village. Mr Zgarba denies accusations he has misused the subsidy.
The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection says it has reservations about the new bill which empowers police to obtain DNA samples without the agreement of the accused, even by force. The new bill, which the cabinet approved on Wednesday, is supposed to facilitate identification of crime perpetrators. The data protection office chairman Karel Neuwirt has expressed concern about the extent of this "extraordinary intervention in the individuals' privacy" and about the fact that the Interior Ministry had not discussed the bill with the office. Health Minister Milada Emmerova, too, said she feared that the register could be abused.
Jarmila Bohackova, a deputy for the ruling Social Democrats, has died after a long disease, aged 57, a spokeswoman for the party said. Mrs Bohackova should be replaced in the lower house by Frantisek Konicek, the current Deputy Labour and Social Affairs Minister. The new MP is expected to take his oath at the next lower house session which begins on Tuesday. Mrs Bohackova was a Social Democrat member for many years and a deputy from 1998.
The current temperatures of about 16 to 20 degrees Celsius should continue also in the next couple of days. We can expect partly cloudy weather and occasional rain across the country.
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