By: Vladimir Tax
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman foresees a growth potential of the Czech economy of around 6 percent. In Mr Zeman's opinion, economic growth could accelerate to this rate in 2003 or 2004 and continue developing at a similar pace. Speaking at an economic conference on Thursday, Mr Zeman said he envisaged 4-percent economic growth this year and 5 percent in 2002.
The European Commission has expressed concern about the widening deficit in the Czech state budget and the balance of payments. The Commission sees the trend as a consequence of structural problems and warns that should it continue, it will reflect in the Commission's regular progress report due to be released in November.
The Czech Communist Party has accused the ruling Social Democratic Party of deliberately shifting its rhetoric to the left to attract traditional Communist voters and marginalize the Communist Party in a concerted effort with right-of-center parties. Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek also accused the Social Democrats of unscrupulously stealing parts of the Communists' manifesto. He also described the everyday policies of the Social Democrat government as right-wing, despite the socialist rhetoric.
The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan is visiting Cyprus. The main item on his agenda are talks with top ranking-Cypriot representatives on EU accession, mutual trade and multilateral issues. Both the Czech republic and Cyprus are on the list of six EU candidates slated for joining in the first wave of enlargement, expected to take place in 2004 at the latest. Czech and Cypriot officials see considerable potential for further development of mutual trade as the two countries have not yet signed agreements on prevention of double taxation and investment protection.
The Czech government has appointed finance minister Jiri Rusnok and the Czech National Bank Governor Zdenek Tuma to represent the Czech Republic at the World Bank and the IMF, respectively. They replace their predecessors Pavel Mertlik and Josef Tosovsky. Mr. Rusnok was appointed finance minister last Friday, while Mr. Tuma took up office as bank governor in December last year.
The Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce has announced that trade between the Czech Republic and Austria grew in the year 2000. The Chamber said that the disputes around the controversial Czech nuclear power station in Temelin did not strain trade relations between the two neighbours. According to available data, Austrian exports to the Czech Republic rose by 17 percent and Czech exports by 18 percent.
Czech police have arrested five men alleged to belong to a Russian-speaking criminal gang, suspected of murders and mugging. The men came from different former Soviet-Union countries and one of them had officially applied for asylum in the Czech Republic. The gang are accused of attacking buses with Ukrainian workers returning home from work in the Czech Republic and robbing them. Two Ukrainians who tried to defend themselves were killed. The police said several similar gangs still operate on the routes frequently used by Ukrainian workers for their journey home.
Czech police is investigating a murder of a newborn baby girl who was found in a dustbin outside a hospital in the town of Hodonin, Southern Moravia. The police said the baby was born healthy several days ago. The cause of her death will be established after an autopsy.
And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a cloudy day on Friday with scattered showers and afternoon highs ranging from 5 to 9 degrees Celsius. The weekend should be cloudy with occasional showers, night-time lows are expected to drop to zero, and the highest daytime temperatures should not exceed 9 degrees Celsius.
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