18-08-2003

There is a mixed bag of headlines today, ranging from the suicide of a soldier serving in the elite Prague Castle Guard to the blackout in North America that hit 50 million people last Friday.

The business daily Hospodarske Noviny writes that Czechs do not have to be afraid of such a vast blackout as the one that hit the United States and Canada last week. Coincidentally, a heavy storm made inoperable the largest Czech coal-burning power station at the same time as the American crisis culminated but the power grid was able to overcome that problem.

The paper quotes experts who explain that the Czech system is able to isolate a faulty spot and deliver electricity through other routes, whereas an accident in the outdated American network will cause a domino effect. Besides, Czechs consume only about a half of the energy local power stations are able to produce and key institutions are equipped with their own backup power generators.

Mlada Fronta Dnes informs its readers about a project to speed up the business registration procedure in the commercial register. Within two years, Czechs should be able to register a new firm within a few days, over the internet, without the need for a legal adviser. Today, the procedure is quite complex and takes several months.

The proposed reforms are coming after years of complaints by both local and foreign businesses. Mlada Fronta Dnes writes that the situation has caused desperate foreign investors to buy an existing Czech firm instead of having to go through the nightmarish experience of registering a new one. The paper also mentions a case that was eventually dealt with by the Constitutional Court, when a local commercial registrar in Eastern Bohemia was not able to register a new firm for two years.

Vladimir Spidla, photo: CTKVladimir Spidla, photo: CTK Mlada Fronta Dnes also mentions efforts by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla to avert a planned strike of civil servants, announced for September 1. Teachers, tax revenue officers as well as clerks in the state administration are all planning various forms of strike or work slowdowns to support their wage claims. It is unclear though how Mr Spidla wants to proceed because he had made it clear that the government will provide no extra money.

Today's Pravo reports that recently resigned Social Democrat defence minister Jaroslav Tvrdik is a hot candidate for the post of the president of the Czech national air carrier, CSA. According to Pravo, opposition politicians object strongly to the idea of a former top politician becoming the head of this successful state-controlled company. The paper quotes the deputy leader of the Communist party, Miroslav Ransdorf, as saying such a move should be prevented by all means, given Mr. Tvrdik's performance as a minister and Member of Parliament.

And finally, Lidove Noviny introduces a chart of the most popular traditional Czech meals. The number one has been the same for years - roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut. In a survey, 80 percent of Czechs named this fat-intensive meal as the best of Czech cuisine in general as well as the meal they like the best to cook at home.

18-08-2003