News

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Government fine-tunes reform package

The centre-right government is meeting to fine-tune its reform package ahead of a debate in Parliament due to open on Tuesday. The reforms aim to reduce the deficit in public spending to below three percent of GDP and will have an impact on almost all areas of life. Among the most controversial are the proposed tax reform and a reform of the health sector envisaging the introduction of fees for medical services. The opposition has said it will fight the proposal all the way and with its slim majority in the lower house the government needs to reach agreement on all disputed issues. The prime minister has linked his cabinet's future to the reform package saying he would resign if it failed to win approval.

Trade unions planning protest action against reforms

Trade unions are planning a mass protest against the planned reforms outside Parliament on Tuesday, the day the lower house is due to start debating proposed amendments to the reform package. The organizers say they expect several hundred people to take part. Trade unions say the planned reforms will benefit the rich and hurt the middle and lower classes.

Fifty-five percent of Czechs say reform is necessary

Meanwhile, the results of an opinion poll conducted by the Median agency indicate that 55 percent of Czechs understand and accept the need for reform. Only ten percent of Czechs strictly oppose it. The highest rate of support comes from people aged 18 to 24. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas said this was "encouraging news".

Male nurse administered lethal drug to 17 patients, killed eight

Petr Zelenka, a male nurse who is charged with deliberately killing eight people with a lethal doze of the blood-thinning drug heparin has confessed that he administered the drug to 17 patients altogether, injecting the drug on twenty four different occasions. In one case a patient received three dozes before the drug killed him. The hospital in question is now reviewing its medical records to ascertain whether Zelenka did not kill even more people than previously thought. He faces life imprisonment, although his defence lawyers claim he is mentally ill.

US experts inspect potential site for US radar

A team of American experts are inspecting the Brdy military area south-west of Prague which has been selected as a potential site for a US radar base in the Czech Republic. The main goal of the four day mission is to inspect the geological conditions, as well as the infrastructure and transport network. Prague and Washington are holding talks on the possible installation of a radar in Brdy as part of the US missile defence programme, but no commitment has as yet been made. In the Czech Republic such a project would have to be approved by Parliament. Municipalities in the region are strongly opposed to it and opinion polls suggest that the majority of Czechs do not want a US radar in the country.

Prague now protected against floods

At a press conference marking the fifth anniversary of the devastating 2002 floods, mayor of Prague Pavel Bem said that the city hall had invested two billion crowns into flood protection. He said that 95 percent of the city was now protected from a disaster of such magnitude and that in the event of a flood the new flood protection system could be erected within 24 hours. Forty billion crowns have gone into construction and reconstruction work.

Police arrest man who abducted his ex-girlfriend

The police have arrested a twenty-six year old man who abducted his ex-girlfriend from her parent's house in the middle of the night because he could not come to terms with their break-up. The woman managed to escape after 20 hours in captivity. She is currently under surveillance in hospital having sustained light injuries and is said to be suffering from shock. Her abductor, who allegedly stalked her for months, faces up to eight years in jail.

Industrial output statistics

Industrial production in the Czech Republic rose by 1.0 percent in June from the previous month, according to seasonally adjusted figures released Monday by the Czech Statistics Office. On an annual basis, production in June was up 6.9 percent, after rising 7.5 percent in May. Transport equipment, electronic and optic devices led industrial production in June as well as the manufacture and repair of machinery.

Growing number of companies have problems finding employees

Three quarters of Czech companies have problems finding employees, according to the daily Hospodarske noviny. The paper cites the outcome of a poll among 1,900 domestic companies. The firm Siemens allegedly lacks 500 employees, as does Skoda Auto in Mlada Boleslav. The shortage is most prominent in the industrial sector where 88 percent of companies are currently looking for new employees. Lorry drivers, shop assistants and IT experts are also in short supply. A third of companies now rely on foreigners.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be bright and sunny with day temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius.