05-04-2001

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on the Labour Minister, Vladimir Spidla's new plan to make up for the decreasing number of Czech citizens. The new migration policy is to allow selected foreigners who are legally living in the Czech Republic, to obtain Czech citizenship. Out of those who apply, only the younger applicants who have a degree and qualifications will be granted citizenship.

Mr Spidla's plan is supported by the Interior Ministry and is expected to be approved by the cabinet next year. The paper says that there are currently about a quarter of a million foreigners living in the country. Most of those who are expected to apply for Czech citizenship will be from Ukraine, Vietnam, and Russia who are seeking a better life elsewhere, the paper claims.

Today's LIDOVE NOVINY has an article on the cabinet's struggle to come up with a new law on rent regulation that would gain approval from parliament. The paper says that the Constitutional Court demanded in June last year that a new law be passed by the end of this year, labelling the present one as unconstitutional.

But a new plan put forward by the Finance Minister, Pavel Mertlik was put before parliament on Wednesday, and was subsequently rejected. So, what's going to happen if the two institutions fail to agree upon a law by the end of the year, the paper asks.

"Vetchy repents but does not resign" reads the headline in today's PRAVO. It refers to a statement made during a press conference held by the Czech Defence Minister, Vladimir Vetchy, in which he admitted that he bears partial blame for the Czech army's bad business dealings in the past. The paper also criticises Prime Minister Milos Zeman for not having exerted enough pressure on the Defence Ministry. But instead of resigning from his post, Mr Vetchy will remain, and he continues to believe that the army's business reforms will improve the situation.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports on the recent arrest of the businessman and hockey club owner, Roman Zubik, who has been charged with large-scale fraud. He is accused of misappropriating 460 million Czech crowns, or a little under 12 million U.S. dollars, that he had been loaned by Union Bank and the Bank of Moravia.

The paper says that the Czech Komercni Banka were also affected by Mr Zubik's financial dealings. The bank's hands were tied when, although already owed half a billion Czech crowns by Mr Zubik, the law did not allow it to legally freeze his private account at the time when he was transferred almost 10 million U.S. dollars from a Slovak company.

Moving on to the effects of the infamous mad cow disease. Today's ZEMSKE NOVINY says that the fear of eating infected meat has resulted in a rise in the consumption of dairy products. This, the paper says, will increase the price of dairy produce, especially cheese. It quotes the manager of a supermarket as saying that many producers of dairy products are already having trouble supplying supermarkets and in the next three months, some dairy foods may disappear from the shelves altogether as supply will not be able to keep-up with demand.

05-04-2001