News

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New survey suggests Czech healthcare resources are squandered

A new survey suggests that Czechs go to the doctor more frequently and use more unnecessary medicines than most other European nations. The research carried out by the Fakta agency found that Czechs pay an average of nearly 16 visits to their doctor per year, which is around twice the rate of neighbouring countries such as Austria and Germany. According to the analysis more than 20 billion Czech crowns or around 1 billion US dollars are annually squandered in the health service due to a waste of resources and corruption. The survey was commissioned by the government, which wants to use it as the basis for an all-party debate on future funding for the public healthcare system.

Czech crown hits new record against dollar

The Czech crown closed trading on Monday on all time record high of 19.28 CZK against the American dollar according to the Patria Online financial news website. The crown has been doing well in recent weeks against the dollar, which has been hit badly by fears of an economic slowdown in America. The low value of the dollar means that commodities such as petrol, gas and electronic goods are now much cheaper for Czechs although there are concerns that the crown's continuing strength against the dollar could hurt Czech exporters.

Czech Trade and Czech Invest to pool foreign networks

The Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry has announced that the investment-development agency Czech Invest and the export-support agency Czech Trade will pool the resources of their foreign networks as of the beginning of next year. The move will see both agencies use a combined network of foreign offices to provide services to foreign investors and exporters.

The Minister for Trade and Industry Martin Riman stressed that both agencies were not merging but simply operating out of one office in territories where the two of them are represented. He added that the measure was being implemented as part of the government's long-term plans to streamline Czech economic diplomacy and that combining resources in this way would save the country 12-15 million Czech crowns per year.

Czech Invest currently has 9 foreign offices while Czech Trade has 32.The cities where both agencies will use the same office are Cologne, Paris, London, Dublin, Brussels, Rotterdam, Chicago and Chengdu.

Social Democrats threaten to expel Gross

The Social Democratic Party has threatened to expel former prime minister Stanislav Gross from its ranks if he fails to explain how he acquired shares reportedly worth 300 million Czech crowns or 15 million US dollars in the power company Moravia Energo. Party vice-chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists at the weekend that action would be taken against Mr Gross if he could not satisfactorily rebuff allegations that he used insider information gleaned while in politics to acquire the shares for a fraction of their estimated market value.

The former primer minister denies any wrongdoing and says the price of the shares quoted by the press is massively overvalued. Mr Gross left politics two years ago after failing to explain where he got 1.2 million crowns to purchase a luxury apartment in Prague.

Aktualne.cz: Slovak company financed Gross share deal

In related news, the aktualne.cz news website has claimed that Mr Gross financed the purchase of shares in the Moravia Energo company using the Slovak financial consulting company Key Investments, which put up the money for the stock and will retain possession of the shares until Mr Gross repays it the money he owes, estimated to be 17 million crowns or 900,000 USD. Neither Mr Gross nor Key Investments would confirm or deny the accuracy of the report.

Public finance deficit fell to 2.69% of GDP in 2006

The Czech Statistical Office (CSU) has released information indicating that the Czech public-spending deficit fell to 2.69% of GDP in 2006 as opposed to 3.49% in 2005. According to the CSU, the Czech public-finance deficit fell year-on-year by 17.4 billion CZK to 86.9 billion CZK in 2006. The figure is now below the crucial 3% limit set for euro adoption.

Czech police launch clamp down on illegal foreigners

The Czech foreigners' police began a nationwide operation on Monday to clamp down on foreigners living illegally in this country. Around 350 police officers as well as customs and labour office officials have been carrying out checks at boarding houses, metro stations, building sites and factories in an effort to root out illegal foreigners. A police spokeswoman said the operation was aimed at ensuring that as many undesirable aliens as possible are apprehended before the Czech Republic joined the so-called Schengen zone at the start of next year. A similar operation last June uncovered 192 residency violations.

Two die in crash near Prachatice

Two women died near the south-Bohemian of Prachatice on Monday morning after the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree. The twenty-seven-year-old driver of the car was airlifted to hospital where his condition has been described as critical. Police investigating the crash say it appears as though the driver lost control of his vehicle after falling asleep at the wheel.

The fatal accident follows on the heels of one of the worst months in the Czech Republic in recent years as regards road safety. 114 people died on Czech roads in September as opposed to 94 people last year with 16 people dying in car accidents last weekend alone.

Czech film wins prize at Canadian festival

The Czech children's film Maharal directed by Pavel Jandourek has won the audience prize at the prestigious Carrousel film festival in Romouski, Canada. Earlier in the year, this magical adventure story featuring historical figures from Rudolphine Prague such as the Rabbi Loew also picked up the audience prize at the Zlin international festival.

Weather

The weather is expected to be mainly cloudy with occasional rain over most of the country. Highest temperatures should range between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.