News Monday, JANUARY 11th, 1999

Welcome to RP. Those were the main points, now the news in full:

O'Brien to Prague

British Deputy Home Secretary Mike O'Brien arrives in Prague on Monday. He's going to discuss with the Czech officials mainly the Roma migration to Britain and drug abuse prevention. Czech Education Minister Eduard Zeman has highly praised British assistance in the latter. Zeman has told the CTK news agency that over the past two years Britain has allocated about 2.5 million crowns for the implementation of drug prevenion schemes at Czech schools.

Law on screening

At its meeting on Tuesday the House of Deputies is to discuss a Communist motion seeking to abolish the law on political screening. Under this legislation, people who during the communist era collaborated with the state secret police, the StB, are barred from holding high posts in the state administration. It was to have expired at the end of 1996, but its validity was extended till December 31st, 2000. Communist MPs argue that the law runs counter to the principles of a law-abiding state and the Charter of Basic Human Rights and Freedoms. Although the law has been subjected to a hail of criticism from international institutions monitoring the human rights situation in the Czech Republic, it is widely expected that there will not be enough votes for the screening law to be abolished.

Consumer tax higher

The House of deputies' debate will also include a governmental proposal on the amendment to the law on consumer tax, under which the consumer tax for car fuels and tobacco products is to be increased. The cabinet suggested that the price of one litre of car petrol be increased by 1.4 crowns and a packet of cigarettes by 1.2 crowns, which would bring some 4 billion crowns to state coffers. The government has also submitted a proposal on closing Tax/Duty Free shops in the Czech Republic by the end of 2001.

Czech industry - revitalization programme

A programme for the revitalization of the Czech industry, outlined by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, is to be submitted to the cabinet by the end of February. Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr said this in a round-table debate on Czech TV on Sunday. Gregr also said that the volume of state guarantees was being planned in a way which should not increase the state debt, and noted that if correctly conceived, the programme could even yield a profit. Companies with a low growth potential will not be included in the scheme, the minister noted.

Visa policy

On Monday, the cabinet will discuss the Czech Republic's future visa policy, specifically the re-imposition of visa requirement for citizens from the countries of the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Romania. Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich told Czech Radio on Sunday that the cabinet would take into account not only the number of immigrants but also the number of crimes committed by migrants from these countries in Czech territory.

Nuclear power

The first document commissioned by the cabinet to help it decide whether to finish the construction of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia, is a report by the State Office for Nuclear Safety, submitted to the government on Monday. The cabinet should decide about the fate of the project, which has been gobbling up millions of crowns daily, on the basis of a report elaborated by a mixed commission of Czech and foreign experts. Its working version should be completed by the end of the month. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and his deputy Egon Lansky are expected to work out a report on the foreign policy aspects of the Temelin project. Protests against Temelin have come voiced mainly from neighbouring Austria.

I am Alena Skodova and that's the end of the news.