Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

22-10-2003

Finance Minister Sobotka to be appointed deputy prime minister

Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla announced on Wednesday that Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will be appointed deputy prime minister. Speaking at a special press conference on Wednesday, Mr Spidla said he has already made the request to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who had no objections. Mr Spidla hopes to put the finance minister in charge of the public finance reform plan, mainly to oversee the drafting of bills on the areas of pension reform, tax reform, health care, and what is called the "grey economy". Mr Sobotka is expected to be appointed new deputy prime minister within the next month.

Government sets up commission to assess fighter jet offers

The Czech cabinet has set up a special commission that will be responsible for the country's purchase of fighter jets. The commission is to assess the various bids made by selected countries. Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky told journalists on Wednesday that the members of the commission were chosen carefully to ensure that it was a strictly "technical" and not political committee. The Czech Army, and the ministries of defence, finance, foreign affairs, and trade and industry are represented. The government came under criticism on Monday, after it decided not to purchase the second-hand fighter jets through a public tender but rather by strategic order. On Wednesday, Turkey decided not to offer its jets, leaving Belgium, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and France among the seven countries interested to present their offers by the end of the month.

Czech and Germans agree on plan against flooding

The Czech Republic, Germany and the EU have agreed on an action plan to secure against flooding around the river Elbe. At a two-day meeting of the International Commission for the Protection of the Elbe, in Germany's Erfurt, a 560 million Euro plan was submitted to guarantee better protection of the regions around the river by 2015.

EC to pressure government against the issuing of guarantees to banks

The Czech Government can expect to face strong pressure from the European Commission to cancel state guarantees to the country's leading banks, the Financial Times reported in Wednesday's issue. The paper writes that big Czech banks such as Ceska Sporitelna, Komercni Banka, and CSOB, are still enjoying state guarantees, despite being in foreign ownership. The European Commisson, it says, is concerned the guarantees may constitute illegal state aid. The Czech government, however, has been hesitant to address the issue, fearing it may harm the country's banking sector.

Police arrest two men for power blackout

Police said on Wednesday they would press criminal charges against two Czechs they believe are responsible for a blackout in western Bohemia. The September 25 power outage affected about 2,000 homes and other electric customers for up to two hours in the Nova Role area, near Karlovy Vary. Police spokeswoman Helena Malotinska said the early-morning outage was traced to a high-voltage power line that had been cut with cable shears. Investigators believe the line was cut by two men who climbed the high-voltage pylon. The suspects, aged 18 and 19, were apprehended when they returned to the crime scene the next day. Police have now determined there is enough evidence to charge the men with vandalism, threatening a public utility and attempted robbery.

Weather

Thursday will have cloudy skies and scattered showers in the southern parts of the country. Temperatures will range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius.

22-10-2003