Rumours of a pending coalition
Prime minister Zeman has denied that his party is seriously considering a coalition with the Christian Democrats in order to survive its term in office. The statement came in response to an interview with deputy premier Pavel Rychetcky who predicted that "a government of national reconciliation" with the Christian Democrats would emerge sometime early next year as a result of increased social tension. Rychetsky said that everything pointed to an economic crisis around mid-1999, with strikes and social unrest, and that at such a time the country needed a strong majority government with Parliamentary backing. Government spokesman Libor Roucek promptly informed the media that deputy premier Rychetsky had presented a personal opinion, which had not been consulted with the Cabinet.
The Czech government has said it would help the third largest Czech bank, Ceska Sporitelna, to overcome its present problems. The bank is expecting a loss exceeding 10 billion crowns at the end of the year. Deputy premier Pavel Mertlik, who heads a government commission set up to deal with the problem, refused to disclose ,for the present time, what form the assistance would take. The state has a 45% stake in Ceska Sporitelna.
The Lower House of Parliament has rejected a government proposed bill on higher consumer taxes. It had been the government's intention to increase the price of petrol and cigarettes thus bringing in an extra 6 billion crowns in revenues next year. With 90 deputies in favour of the bill it fell just 6 votes short of the required margin for approval.
The commander in chief of the Czech air force, general Ladislav Klima has suspended a temporary ban on flight training. As of Wednesday, December 2nd, all but one air base in the Czech Republic have renewed training . The ban came in the wake of a series of tragic accidents which resulted in a thorough inspection of the quality of aircraft maintenance and pilot training. According to the general the inspection teams did not find anything seriously amiss, but even so he has issued a special order stating that some of the more complicated manoeuvres such as flying in cloud in formation are to be discontinued until it becomes clear what caused the last fatal crash in which four people lost their lives.
Teams of doctors and nurses at the Prague Vinohrady Hospital are protesting against the dismissal of the hospital's former director Zuzana Roitova. Health minister Ivan David dismissed Roitova from the post earlier this week citing mismanagement and an unwillingness to cooperate with ministry inspection teams. She was given no notice and requested to leave immediately. Roitova herself has labelled this behaviour as highly suspicious and voiced the belief that she was being prevented from proving that her books and records were perfectly in order. In an open letter to the health minister 56 hospital employees, mostly doctors and nurses, stated that in the past 8 years Roitova had proved herself to be highly capable in the post and asked the minister to face them in person and explain his decision.
From the world of culture - the Prague theatre On the Balustrade is preparing to celebrate its 40th birthday on December 9th . A party and CD promotion event has been planned for the occasion and on the night itself the ensemble will premiere Christo Bojcev's satirical comedy Colonel Bird. President Havel worked as a stage hand at the theatre On the Balustrade during his dissident years.
And finally a look at the weather: the next two days should bring a slight warming, although we can expect more snow showers. Nighttime lows should not drop far below 6 degs, and day temp are expected to hover between 1 and 3 degs C.
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