News of Radio Prague

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Czech Rep. to join Eurozone in 2010 or 2011 - Spidla

The Czech Republic will need six to seven years after accession to the EU to get ready to join the single European currency. This according to the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party and deputy prime minister, Vladimir Spidla. Spidla said on Sunday the introduction of the euro in the Czech Republic was expected to be smooth and would not require any special costs. He also denied that the adoption of the euro would in any way affect the Czech tax system. Spidla said the Czech Republic needed to undergo a fundamental tax reform but the ruling Social Democrats see no room for an overall reduction of the tax burden.

Opposition leader criticises government for preserving monopolies

The leader of the right-of-centre opposition Four-Party Coalition Karel Kuehnl, has criticised the government for preserving monopolies in various areas of the economy. Kuehnl said that the increase of electricity and gas prices, railway fares and telecom tariffs that took place at the beginning of January were due to the monopoly position of the respective providers. Electricity prices in the Czech Republic grew by 10 percent, gas prices by 5 percent, railway fares by 60 percent and monthly subscription fee for fixed line telephones by 70 percent.

Second round of energy sector privatisation starts today

The government's privatisation commission is to discuss the privatisation of the state's stake in the power utility CEZ and six regional power distribution companies on Monday. The first round of a public tender took place in December but the government failed to select a winner because of low bids. The government then asked the two top bidders, French Electricité de France and Italian Enel, to submit new offers by Monday afternoon, and set the minimum price at 200 billion CZK, or nearly 6 billion USD. Analysts warn that the second round may end in failure as well because of the government's excessive demands. They estimate that a realistic price the government could get for control over the Czech electricity production and distribution industry is between 130 and 150 billion crowns, or around four billion USD.

Czech intelligence to investigate extremist promo CD

The Czech intelligence service has launched an investigation into a promotional CD-ROM produced in the Czech Republic which defends the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. The public service Czech Television showed excerpts of the computer material in which Islamic countries were portrayed as peace-loving and devout while the United States was presented as aggressive and militant. The CD-ROM was produced in the Czech town of Lodenice by suspected Islamic fundamentalists, the report said. The Czech intelligence service was said to be collecting information on those suspected of producing the material. A police spokesperson said the CD-ROM was propaganda but did not violate Czech law. It was not known how many copies of the material had been produced or distributed.

Tennis-Bedanova loses to Mauresmo in Sydney

Tennis - and Czech Daniela Bedanova lost to world number nine, Amelie Mauresmo of France 6-3 7-6 in the first round of the Sydney international on Sunday. Mauresmo, the sixth seed for the tournament, won the second set tie-break 8-6 after Bedanova had been poised to take the match into a third set, leading 6-4 before making two unforced errors. Mauresmo, who is 22, said she hoped to win the Sydney tournament, as she did two years ago, as part of her preparations for the Australian Open starting on January 14 in Melbourne.

Czech weather report

We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with occasional snow showers, the highest daytime temperatures should range from 2 degrees Celsius below zero to 2 above. The following two days should be partially cloudy with afternoon highs hovering around zero.