President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed the second of two bills which make up the government's package of planned public finance reforms. Mr Klaus refused to sign a bill on social security payments, saying the proposed legislation was selective and unfair. On Wednesday the president vetoed a bill increasing health insurance payments for the self-employed. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said he is confident the ruling coalition's deputies will unite to overrule the president's veto when the bills are returned to parliament. Mr Klaus has so far signed six of the draft laws.
Police have rounded up hundreds of foreigners in a major crackdown on illegal workers. A police spokeswoman said officers had checked the passports of more than 14,000 foreigners during the sweep that began on Tuesday and ended on Thursday morning. She said more than 400 foreign citizens were found to be staying in the country illegally, and at least half of them were expected to be deported. Police focused on restaurants, outdoor markets and guesthouses frequented by foreign workers, most of whom come from Eastern Europe, China and Vietnam.
The Czech Republic will lead a new NATO battalion to be launched next week in Brussels. The alliance said the anti-Chemical, Biological and Nuclear weapons battalion would defend member states against weapons of mass destruction and turn attacks from potential catastrophes into manageable crises. The Czech Republic has one of the most highly-regarded anti-chemical units in the world, seeing action in the 1991 Gulf War and the recent invasion of Iraq. The force will initially be led by Czech commanders, before handing over control to other NATO members.
The Czech National Bank has decided at its weekly board meeting to keep its key two-week repo rate unchanged at 2 percent. The discount rate was kept at 1 percent and the Lombard rate at 3 percent. The central bank concluded that profitability and efficiency had improved in the Czech banking sector as banks trimmed staff, reined in operating costs and reduced non-performing loans.
MPs are considering a proposal aimed at preserving the quality of the Czech language by encouraging broadcasters to watch their words. Under the bill, proposed by a Communist Party deputy, grammatically correct Czech would be mandatory on all radio and TV news broadcasts. All broadcasters would have to stick to grammar rules taught in the nation's schools in order to contribute to what the MP called "the advancement of Czech and dedication to the language." The government has already rejected a proposal from the same MP calling for Czech to be declared the country's official language. Critics have dismissed the proposals as populist.
In the light of international events security has been increased in Prague's historic Jewish quarter. Security cameras and large flower pots to block traffic are being installed in the Jewish quarter, while three other Jewish sites in the city will also see tightened security, the mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, said on Wednesday.
Sparta Prague have taken a valuable point in football's Champions League away to English club Chelsea. The 0:0 draw at London's Stamford Bridge keeps the Czech champions with a chance of qualifying from the group stage of the prestigious and lucrative competition; Sparta need to beat Italian side Lazio in their last qualifying game and hope Istanbul's Besiktas lose to Chelsea.
Friday will be a mostly cloudy with rain in places. Daytime temperatures will range from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 1 degree.
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