The Czech government has announced it will increase supervision of casinos operating throughout the country and tighten licensing rules, following a grenade attack outside the Royal Prague Casino-Hotel, which police say is indirectly owned by an alleged Israeli underworld figure. According to the Finance Ministry, authority will be granted to local authorities to clamp down on casinos, the companies operating them and especially on Czech citizens serving as cover for foreign investors — and especially against illegal entities involved in the operation. Some 150 casinos operate in the Czech Republic, run by 28 different companies, 11 of which are listed in Prague.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will adopt two European Union standards for measuring unemployment, a move that should result in a drop on paper in jobless rates. Women on maternity leave and people with long-term illnesses, among others not able to begin work immediately, will not be counted. Foreigners, however, will be, and the jobless rate among this population is lower than the national average.
CEZ, the dominant Czech power utility, has yet to receive any serious bids for its 34 percent stake in the national grid operator CEPS. In line with a July 28 government decision to buy the stake if the tender was unsuccessful, CEZ will now begin talks with the Finance Ministry. Under the terms of the agreement, the state will pay a price no higher than the market price as determined by experts. The government bought 66 percent of CEPS from the Czech power utility for 15.2 billion Czech crowns over a year ago. After the transaction, the Czech Anti-Monopoly Office ordered CEZ to sell the rest by autumn 2004.
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