Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has succeeded in passing a package of eleven bills aimed at reducing the Czech Republic's record budget deficit and preparing the country for the adoption of the euro currency in 2010. On Friday the Chamber of Deputies voted to increase consumer tax, raise the pension age, reduce illness benefits and lower state support for building savings. Mr Spidla, who had staked his future on the reforms being pushed through, said he was optimistic next year's budget would also be approved. The bills must now be passed by the Senate and signed by President Vaclav Klaus.
Earlier on Friday the centre-left governing coalition had survived a vote of no confidence tabled by the opposition Civic Democrats. All but one of the government's 101 deputies voted against the motion in Friday's vote, with rebel Social Democrat Josef Hojdar, who was opposed to some of the reforms, abstaining.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Spidla said on Saturday that the Czech secret service, the BIS, had not kept Mr Hojdar under surveillance. However, according to the head of the lower house committee which monitors the BIS, Civic Democrat MP Jan Klas, the license numbers of two cars Mr Hojdar says followed him are those of secret service vehicles. The chief of the BIS, Jiri Lang, denies that the agency shadowed Mr Hojdar.
The Czech defence minister, Miroslav Kostelka, and the United States ambassador to Prague, Craig Stapleton, have visited the Czech military field hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. During Saturday's visit both men thanked the soldiers for their work. The Czech parliament has to decide by the end of the year whether to extend the field hospital's mandate.
The World Monument Fund has included Chotesov Monastery near Pilsen and St Anne's Church in Prague on this year's list of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. Chotesov Monastery, founded in the 12th century, has seen a major re-roofing project in recent years but is still in need of extensive repairs. St Anne's Church, located in Prague's Old Town, has retained a cycle of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque murals, despite being used as a warehouse for the last two centuries.
Sunday is expected to be cloudy in many parts of the country, with the chance of rain in places. The maximum temperature should be 21 degrees Celsius.
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