News Monday, OCTOBER 19th, 1998

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Havel well enough to go

President Havel has recovered enough over the weekend, so that his doctors see no reason to postpone his planned trip to Britain. The president's doctor Ilja Kotik said on Saturday that Havel may have to postpone the trip because of fatigue and other health problems. Havel has twice received lengthy hospital treatment this year because of respiratory problems and has had a very busy schedule recently. Doctors now insist that Havel's workload must be lowered.

Bank privatisation must go on - Pilip

Hesitations with privatisation of banks was a political mistake, according to former finance minister, MP Ivan Pilip. Pilip said in a televised debate on Sunday that the delay in privatisation of state owned banks now requires higher costs. He added during his term in office, the ministry started the process of privatisation so that the current government cannot stop it. Pilip also attributed some of the current problems of the banking sector to the Czech National Bank's licensing policy, when it was reluctant to allow foreign banks to operate in the Czech Republic, but on the other hand open-mindedly granted licenses to new Czech banks that had neither enough capital nor experts.

Havel scolds local authorities because of Romanies

President Vaclav Havel has been highly critical of some local authorities in connection with the Roma minority issue, especially the town of Usti nad Labem city council's intent to erect a fence that would separate the Roma minority from the rest of the citizens. Referring to a recent visit of a Council of Europe delegation in Usti nad Labem, Havel said there were local administration representatives who despised foreign authorities and thus damaged the Czech Republic's reputation. "They speak for their voters and think they must reflect their prejudices, including racial ones, as well," Havel said. He pointed out that the issue of co-existence of Czechs and Romanies was connected with the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union, and that it was in both communities' interests to find a way to get on with each other.

ODS won't support deficit budget - Tlusty

The main opposition Civic Democratic Party will not support a state budget with deficit higher than 27 billion crowns. Civic Democrat MP and parliamentary budget committee chairman Vlastimil Tlusty said on Sunday that if the government proposes a new draft budget with a higher deficit, the Civic Democrats will reject it again. Referring to a parliamentary resolution proposed by the Christian Democrats that allows the government to come up with any level of state budget deficit, Tlusty said there was no imminent danger of cancelling the so-called opposition agreement between his party and the ruling Social Democrats. He added though, that should the Social Democrats start cooperating with other parties on a more permanent basis, the deal would be automatically terminated.

SocDem not planning to violate opposition agreement

According to Social Democrat leader in the chamber of deputies, Stanislav Gross, the Social Democrats are in no way thinking about violating the so-called opposition agreement with the Civic Democrats, which made it possible for them to form a minority cabinet. However, Gross said on Saturday the Social Democrats should adopt a pragmatic approach towards the deal.

Govt to discuss law on balanced budget

At its session on Monday, the cabinet is to discuss a bill that would compel governments to present balanced state budgets. The proposal, submitted by Civic Democrat MP Martin Kocourek, is very unlikely to be approved by the parliament because all the other political parties reject it. Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus came up with a similar initiative already in 1994, when it caused a serious controversy between him and other high-ranking party officials.

Weather forecast

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a partially cloudy day, with afternoon highs between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius. The weather on Tuesday and Wednesday should be much the same as on Monday, partially cloudy with highest daytime temperatures around ten degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.