Czech state budget in 2008 to be in 70.8 billion crowns deficit
The Czech Republic's state budget for 2008 is expected to have a deficit of 70.8 billion crowns, or 3.5 billion U.S. dollars, the Finance Ministry said on Monday. The deficit should account for 2.95 percent of the budget, which falls within the three percent limit set by the Maastricht criteria for the adoption of the euro.
The deficit in 2008 should be lower than in the previous two years as it reflects the changes incorporated in the fiscal reform proposed by the government and passed by the Chamber of Deputies in August. The expenditures of the state should rise by 66.5 billion crowns, while the state income is expected to be higher by about 87 billion crowns.
Property of abolished IT ministry goes missing
The fate of about 250 million crowns worth of property of the former IT ministry remains unclear, the daily Hospodarske noviny reported on Monday. The ministry, established in 2003, was abolished by the current government in 2007. The agenda of the IT ministry was passed onto the Interior Ministry, together with all its property. The control commission of the Czech Parliament has discovered that about 250 million crowns (12.3 million U.S. dollars) of its property is missing, the paper said.
New school year for Czech schoolchildren
Monday was the first day of the new school year for about 1.4 million children attending elementary and secondary schools throughout the Czech Republic. The 2007/08 school year also sees a change to the syllabi of elementary schools in the country. From now on, each school is responsible for its own curriculum. Monday is also the tenth anniversary of the revival of Jewish education in the Czech Republic. The sole Czech Jewish school was founded ten years ago in Prague.
Communist Party did not commit treason, says Czech Parliament
The Parliamentary Institute, an information centre of the Czech Parliament, has said that the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia did not commit treason by refusing the positioning of an American radar base in the Czech Republic. Senator Jaromir Stetina, of the Green Party, had approached the Institute with an inquiry whether the position of the Communist Party did not harm the ability of the country to defend itself.
73 million crowns worth of social welfare abused in 2006
Social welfare benefits amounting to 73 million crowns (or more than 3.5 million U.S. dollars) was abused last year, the weekly Profit reported. Inspections carried out by Labour Offices in the Czech Republic revealed that in 2006, social benefits were illegitimately drawn in more than 34,000 cases, most of them being child allowances. One of the goals of the fiscal reform recently approved by the lower house is to reduce the abuse of social benefits, some of which should be replaced by the so-called 'negative tax'.
PM Mirek Topolanek dismisses rumour of changes to his government
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has dismissed speculation that he is planning a cabinet reshuffle. Czech newspapers reported last week that Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova (Christian Democrats), as well as Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil (Civic Democrats) might be replaced by MP Jan Vidim (Civic Democrats) and Minister Cyril Svoboda (Christian Democrats), respectively. Mr Topolanek said on Monday that both ministers had been doing very well and that he was satisfied with their performance.
Czechs drink more coffee than ever
The consumption of coffee in the Czech Republic rose in 2006 to 370 cups, or about 3 kg, per capita. Five years before, the average Czech consumed 330 cups. With the average annual consumption of 3 kg of coffee, Czechs rank among the world average with Scandinavian countries topping the list with about 10 kg per head. In the Czech Republic, instant coffee is becoming increasingly popular while the Czech speciality known as 'Turkish' coffee is gradually losing popularity.
The next few days should see cloudy skies with rain showers over most of the Czech Republic. Temperatures are expected to reach no higher than 11 to 15 degrees Celsius.