Parliament on Tuesday recalled Jirina Musilkova from her post at the head of the VZP health insurance company, which is at the centre of a money crisis in the health sector. The insurance company is 11 billion crowns in debt and has been consistently late in its payments to private practitioners and hospitals. The insurance company was put under forced administration late last year, but the situation has not improved significantly.
In a related development, private doctors, dentists and pharmacists said on Tuesday they were considering a joint protest strategy. Zoran Jojko, a leading representative of the doctors union, said the backlog in payments could have alarming consequences for both doctors and patients. Two thirds of specialists and private physicians are allegedly in favour of joining the planned strike of pharmacists schedule to take place on January 30th. Health Minister David Rath has come under severe criticism from health sector employees and the opposition Civic Democratic Party for failing to resolve the ongoing crisis.
The police have started looking into the case of Social Democrat MP Michal Kraus, who resigned from the lower house on Monday amidst allegations of corruption. The longest serving MP in Parliament came under fire from the press and political opponents when it emerged that he had participated in a dubious business deal in Ghana without any mandate and in cooperation with a man now serving a ten year sentence for fraud. Michal Kraus maintains that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and was merely taken in by a fraudster. He will not stand for re-election in June, saying he does not want the affair to damage the Social Democrats.
A technical failure at the Lucebni zavody chemicals plant was to blame for the leak of cyanide into the Labe river, which contaminated a 10 km stretch of the river and poisoned many tons of fish. Environmentalists say damage to river-life was extensive. Specialists who have been monitoring the environment say the concentration levels are slowly decreasing and will most likely drop below those deemed toxic by the time the spill reaches Germany. The cyanide is being gradually eliminated through contact with oxygen. The factory responsible faces a fine of up to ten million crowns.
Wednesday is expected to be overcast with scattered snow showers and day temperatures between 2 and minus 2 degrees Celsius.
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