News of Radio Prague

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Budget deficit: significantly lower than original numbers approved by Czech parliament

The Finance Ministry has announced that the Czech Republic's budget deficit for last year has proven to be significantly lower than the original allowance approved by the Czech parliament. Originally the Czech Lower House approved a state budget deficit of 49 billion crowns, and then nearly doubled the figures to 84 billion because of extraordinary expenses in the public sector. Now the Finance Ministry has revealed that the Czech Republic's state budget deficit for 2001 topped just around 68 billion, a difference of 16 billion crowns in the numbers previously approved.

Privatisation of telecommunications operator: postponement a possibility

In other financial news Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok announced Thursday that the Czech Republic may delay the privatisation of its dominant telecommunications operator, Czech Telecom, if the sale of the company does not meet with an adequate offer. However, Mr Rusnok was quick to add that preparations for the sale were momentarily on schedule, and that the Czech government expected to announce a buyer by the end of March 2002. So far a total of 25 potential buyers have expressed their interest in the privatisation of the telecommunications operator, and have until January 9th to submit proposals. The Czech Republic is expecting to sell at least 51.1 percent of the telecommunications company.

Snow still a problem in the Bruntal region

Heavy snow fall is continuing to leave its mark on the Czech Republic in the eastern end of the country. Snow removal workers around the towns of Frydek-Mistek, Bruntal and Opava have been swamped by snow and high winds. Further complicating the work of snow removal are temperatures of -11 to -14 degrees Celsius. Elsewhere in the Czech Republic, however, conditions are slowly returning to normal, including areas such as Southern Moravia and the Czech-Moravian highlands. The last week in the Czech Republic had seen as much as a third of the country's districts declared as snow calamity areas, with blizzards piling up snow drifts faster than snowploughs could clear them.

Court rules on illegal logging

A court in the eastern Moravian town of Vsetin has given a suspended sentence of three years in prison to a man found guilty of illegal logging in the area. According to experts, the man's activities resulted in 7.5 million crowns, or over 200, 000 US dollars, in damages to forests in the region. His two accomplices received a 100, 000 crown fine. The main accused chose to plead guilty and to co-operate with police; he could have faced as much as eight years in jail.

Temelin nuclear power plant recalls special measures

The Temelin nuclear power plant has recalled special measures put in place after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the U.S. last year, and the plant is once again open for visitor excursions. The plant completed a series of operational tests Thursday and its 1st block reactor is now running at 90 percent capacity. Temelin's state-run operator CEZ plans to begin both the commercial operation of the first reactor, and the test launch of the second, in 2002.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather: Thursday evening will see partly cloudy skies with temperatures falling to lows of -11 degrees Celsius.