News of Radio Prague

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CzechInvest attracts record sum in direct foreign investment

Despite predictions by the government's investment agency CzechInvest that the volume of foreign direct investment would decrease, the agency has managed to attract a record 2.01 billion U.S. dollars of direct investment into the country in the course of last year. This, in comparison to the 2000 figures, constitutes a 30 percent increase. In 2001, the most foreign direct investment came from Japan, followed by Germany and France. According to CzechInvest's General Director, Martin Jahn, the increase in foreign investment can be attributed to the gradually improving environment for investment in the Czech Republic.

Scrapie infected sheep to be slaughtered and not entire flock

In reaction to last week's discovery of scrapie - a viral disease found in sheep causing acute itching - at a farm in East Bohemia, the Czech Central Infection Commission has recommended that just the infected sheep be killed, not the whole flock. The disease, common in Europe, was found in the offspring of an imported sheep and is similar to mad cow disease. Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl agreed to the commission's recommendation. Mr Fencl added that the ministry planned to test all animals older than 12 months that had died naturally or will have to be slaughtered prematurely and also all slaughtered sheep older than 18 months. The cost of the tests will be covered by the state and are estimated at five million Czech crowns annually.

Zeman says he would not accept resignation from Gregr

In an interview for Czech Radio on Monday, the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, said that he would not accept a resignation from the Deputy Prime Minister and Industry and Trade Minister, Miroslav Gregr, as he was the best minister in his government. Mr Gregr had pledged in December to resign if the second block of the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia was not supplied with fuel by January, this year. Mr Gregr had made a similar promise approximately a year ago, when he pledged to resign if the budget for Temelin was exceeded. Mr Gregr did not keep his promise then and is not expected to keep it now, critics say. On Monday, he returned from his holiday and will have the chance to offer his resignation on Tuesday morning when he is expected to have breakfast with Prime Minister Zeman.

US experts lecture military personnel on defence force management

Monday saw the beginning of a course aimed at giving military personnel as well as defence ministry representatives an insight into the effective use of equipment, financial resources and human resources during defence forces management. The course takes place at the Military Academy in the Moravian capital of Brno, where 30 military teachers as well as representatives of the defence ministry and regional offices will be lectured by experts from the U.S. Army. The course is due to continue until Friday, January 18th.

Czech MPs disagree with Spidla over Eurozone

Sunday's prediction by Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla that the Czech Republic would need six to seven years after accession to the EU to prepare to join the euro - the single European currency - has been met with a great deal of criticism from members of the country's opposition parties. Opposition MPs, such as Civic Democrat Martin Kocourek and member of the Freedom Union Ivan Pilip have said that it was not possible to make such estimates as one could not foretell the single currency's economic development. Mr. Kocourek and Mr. Pilip said they expected the Czech Republic to be ready to join the Eurozone at least three years earlier than predicted by Mr. Spidla.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday will be cloudy with sleet or snow and daytime temperatures between -2 and +2 degrees Celsius. Tuesday night will have overcast to partially clear skies with occasional snow throughout the country. Night-time temperatures are expected to range between -3 and -7 degrees Celsius. Wednesday is also expected to have overcast skies with snow or sleet and temperatures between -3 and +1 degrees Celsius.