02-07-2001

The first weekend of the school holidays is always chaotic and the front page of today's MLADA FRONTA DNES reveals just how bad it was this year. "Traffic jams, overcrowded airports and long flight delays - not to mention short tempers" that's how the paper describes the first day of the summer holidays.

Those who eventually made it to their holiday destination could consider themselves fortunate, the paper notes. Eight people lost their lives on Czech roads over the weekend and several dozen holiday makers ended up in hospital. It is the same every year and every year the warnings of traffic police go unheeded, says MLADA FRONTA DNES.

LIDOVE NOVINYs lead story today is the "verdict" of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the sale of the country's third biggest bank, the IPB, last June. Amidst rumours of pending bankruptcy, the government ordered enforced administration and sold the bank to a rival institution within a matter of days.

The Parliament commission which spent a month questioning witnesses and sifting through 9,000 pages of related documents, has concluded that the sale of IPB seriously damaged tax-payers and was incredibly advantageous for CSOB, the rival bank which bought the ailing IPB.

According to the commission's report the persons chiefly responsible for this are the former finance minister Pavel Mertlik and the former Central Bank governor Josef Tosovsky. LIDOVE NOVINY says that the commission has advised the government to make the respective contracts public, try to get them changed and possibly even challenge them in court.

Several papers carry excerpts from an article in the SUNDAY TIMES which says that the Czech born businessman Viktor Kozeny faces bankruptcy. The man who made billions in the Czech coupon privatization scheme, ripping off thousands of small investors in the process, is reported to have told the Sunday Times "it's all over - the airplanes, the parties, even my wife is gone".

Everyone has their own idea of what a nightmare looks like and for hundreds of farmers in this country it is a slug invasion. This is one case in which waking up in the morning doesn't help. A morning walk through their fields and gardens reveals the ravages of the past night where thousands of slugs binged on their harvest. Farmers are fighting them with salt, lime and boiling water -but to no avail. The minute darkness falls - the slugs come out, says PRAVO.

And finally, ZEMSKE NOVINY reports that with the country's accession to the European Union, Czech pub goers may have to give up some of their favourite dishes. Two traditional recipes - beef in cream sauce and goulash -are generally known to taste better after having been left "to sit" at room temperature overnight. However this would be in strict violation of EU norms, which stipulate that any cooked food which has not been consumed within three hours must be destroyed.

02-07-2001