News Monday, JULY 24th, 2000

Food prices may rise by as much as 15 percent

Consumer prices of some foodstuffs may rise by as much as 10 to 15 percent later this year. The chairman of the Czech Agrarian Chamber, Vaclav Hlavacek, explained that Czech food prices are 25 - 50 percent lower than those in the EU, which will not be sustainable. However, he said Czech prices will grow gradually, so the public does not have to fear a sudden, drastic price hike. Hlavacek added that turnover in the agriculture decreased by almost one third in 1999. Besides the low price levels last year, another factor that will contribute to a rise of food prices will be the severe droughts in the spring that destroyed a large part of crops in the Czech Republic.

EU to push reforms forward

European Union foreign ministers are due to meet to seek progress on the reforms necessary to prepare the bloc for eastward expansion. The EU must meet a deadline to agree changes to the European Union treaty at a summit in Nice in December to be ready to accept up to 12 new members in 2003. For their part, candidate countries must have completed difficult economic and political preparations by the January 1, 2003 deadline in order to be admitted. Diplomats, though, say that little concrete progress is expected at the meeting. Candidate countries fear that a failure to agree on reforms could set back their entry date.

NGO's to stage mass protests in Prague in September

Opponents of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are planning mass protests in many venues all over Prague in September. Most of them will take place in the city center and some places will see a whole series of demonstrations during the IMF and World Bank annual meeting. The head of the Jubilee 2000 anti-globalisation initiative, Ann Pettifor, said that the mildness of protests that accompanied the recent G8 summit in Japan will be compensated for by fiercer demonstrations in Prague. Pettifor said that the unwillingness of the G8 to support poor countries will have serious consequences. She said the G8 summit created a large wave of anger and violence and that many more people than expected will come to Prague.

Presidential couple back from holiday

The Czech presidential couple has returned from a holiday in Croatia on Sunday. President Havel and his wife stayed in the Balkan country for two weeks, following an official visit to the region which included a summit of the presidents of the Balkan countries. After several days in Prague, the Havels will leave for Portugal where they have purchased a mansion. They plan to spent a great deal of time there once Havel's presidential mandate expires in 2003.

Mobile operator Eurotel revenues up 39 pct

Czech mobile telephone operator Eurotel posted a 39 percent year-on-year increase in operating revenues for the first six months of this year. Eurotel also said that its user base grew to 1.5 million in July compared to 1.2 million in March. Eurotel is the largest of the three Czech mobile operators.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting a cloudy to partially day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 22 to 26 degrees Celsius. The next two days should still be rather cloudy with ocassional showers or thunderstorms, with the highest daytime temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius.