News Friday, JULY 23rd, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail :

Czech Republic back on track in EU accession

The Czech Republic is reportedly making up for the delays in meeting the EU's accession criteria. Both vice-premier Egon Lansky, the government minister in charge of supervising this process, and the Czech Republic's ambassador to Brussels Pavel Telicka agree that in the last couple of months the country has significantly accelerated preparations for membership. Lansky told the ctk news agency on Thursday that the country was now back on track and in line with the other front runners . Consequently, Lansky added, there was no reason to consider changing the country's target accession date – the year 2003.

Christian Democrats say: no double standards

The Christian Democrats have criticized the government's intention to force income and property declarations on people with assets over 10 million crowns. Party vice-chairman Cyril Svoboda said the government-approved draft law was based on the assumption that the rich had very likely accumulated their wealth in a dishonest manner. One should not have to declare the origin of one's wealth unless one was being investigated with respect to possible economic crime, Svoboda noted. He advised the governing Social Democrats to concentrate on curbing tax evasion and unveiling corruption as they promised to do before taking office. The draft law stands little chance of gaining approval in Parliament since only the communists are ready to give it full support.

PM claims state deficit will fall below the forecast figure

Premier Zeman has said he expects this year's deficit to fall below the 64,4 billion crowns which is the latest estimate published by the finance ministry. Zeman said that the soaring deficit figure had acted as a cold shower and led to a tighter than expected fiscal policy in many sectors. The state budget deficit approved in Parliament was 31 billion but the finance ministry was later forced to revise its prediction and some analysts even warned the deficit could be as high as 100 billion crowns.

Srp says : I was not an informant

The Social Democrats' candidate to the Senate Karel Srp has denied allegations that he collaborated with the communist secret police. I was never an informant, I never harmed anyone, Srp said, reminding journalists that he himself had been jailed for two years in connection with his activities in the Jazz Section . Two musicians Jaroslav Hudka and Vladimir Merta claim that Srp had carried information about them to the communist secret service and the latter says that he himself had seen evidence of this when he had accessed his stb file after the revolution. Srp has proclaimed that he barely knows the two men and that once the election campaign was over he would clear him name in court.

Communists willing to restore socialism for the Czech people

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which has recently registered a rise in supporters, is promising its voters a return of socialism, with outlooks for a communist society in the more distant future. At a press conference in Prague Thursday party vice-chairman Vaclav Exner assured the country it had no reason to fear such a scenario and expressed the view that people in their 50s today could realistically live to see the return of socialism to their homeland. The vice-chairman of the largely unreformed communist party noted that growing support among the public was a sign that people approved of its communist policy programme and thereby the party leadership saw no reason to reform it in any radical manner. It would merely be up-dated, he told newsmen.

Challenged to unveil future plans, Exner said his party had learnt from past mistakes and that it would not halt privatization altogether. Given the chance it would employ strategic planning and various forms of governing the economy via the market, he explained. The fact that the demands of the market had been artificially suppressed under socialism had proved a big mistake, he noted. The latest opinion poll has shown the communists in third place with 17% support, the governing Social Democrats came second with 20%. The right of centre Civic Democrats were top of the ladder with a 24% support rating.

Finally a look at the weather

Friday should bring slightly cooler weather with partly cloudy skies and day temps between 16 and 20 degs C . An um brella may come in handy since the forecast predicts scattered showers. The weather should improve steadily from there with day temps reaching the 22 degs mark on Saturday and hitting 26 degs on Sunday.