News of Radio Prague
Transformation of railways to go ahead
The Czech government has taken the first steps to liberalise railway transport in the Czech Republic. The government approved a law on transformation of Czech Railways into a state-owned joint-stock company, which will make it possible to privatise it in the future. The tracks will be entrusted to a separate state-controlled company so that more than one carrier can operate on the network. At the same time, the state will take over Czech Railway's debts amounting to 38 billion Czech crowns which have accumulated since 1993 as losses from passenger transport.
Government approves gay marriages
The government has approved a draft law on same-sex partnership. According to cabinet spokesman Libor Roucek, the aim of the new law was to give homosexual couples the same benefits as married couples. This is the third time the government has tried to introduce legislation on same-sex partnerships, after a similar law was rejected by parliament twice. The proposed bill would not allow homosexual couples to bring up children.
Finance Ministry calls for telecom privatisation in 2001
The Czech government says it wants to go ahead with the privatisation of the country's dominant fixed-line operator, Czech Telecom, and the wireless operator Czech Radiocom, despite the unfavourable atmosphere on the world stock markets. The government holds a 51-percent stake in each of the two companies. The Czech Finance Minister, Pavel Mertlik, told Reuters that the aim was to sell them to strategic investors by the end of this year.
Telecom reports 10-percent increase in sales
Meanwhile, the dominant Czech telecommunications operator, Czech Telecom, has reported a three-percent growth in net profit in 2000 to 6.4 billion CZK, or nearly 170 million USD. Total sales rose by 10 percent. Czech Telecom says the positive development was due to an increase in the volume of data services, increased subscription fees and good results of its mobile subsidiary, EuroTel. Czech Telecom lost its monopoly position in fixed line telephony services for corporate customers at the beginning of this year and the fixed-line market will be fully liberalized at the end of 2002.
New entrepreneurial law makes life easier for foreigners
The Czech government has approved a new draft law allowing foreigners to do business in the Czech Republic under the same conditions as Czech citizens. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance has also proposed the liberalisation of the real estate market so that foreign companies will be allowed to purchase property in the Czech Republic for their business activities. Until now, only Czech citizens, people with permanent residence in the Czech Republic, and companies with headquarters in the Czech Republic have been allowed to buy real estate in the country. However, self-employed businessmen will be able to acquire land and property in the Czech Republic only after the country joins the EU or not earlier than in 2005.
Greenpeace activists occupy E.ON Vienna headquarters in protest against Temelin
Members of the international environmental organisation Greenpeace occupied the Vienna office of the German power utility E.ON on Monday. They were protesting against the renewal of test operations at the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power station. Greenpeace claimed E.ON was the biggest importer of electricity from the Czech Republic, including power produced by Temelin. Greenpeace demanded that E.ON terminates all contracts with the Czech Republic to prevent nuclear electricity from entering the national grid in nuclear-free Austria.
Czechs do not have enough good athletes
Sports now - and the Czech Republic will send only seven athletes to the indoor world athletic championship which starts on March 9 in Lisbon. The Czech Athletic Union has only nominated athletes who fulfilled strict criteria and has not issued any wild cards. Events covered include heptathlon, shot-put, sprint, and pole vault. The number of athletes representing the Czech Republic at the athletic championship is the second lowest in history.
Czech weather forecast
And finally, let's take a look at the weather. We are expecting a partially cloudy day with morning fogs in places. The highest daytime temperatures on Tuesday should range from 2 degrees Celsius below zero to 2 above. Wednesday and Thursday should be more cloudy with scattered rain or sleet showers, and afternoon highs up to 5 degrees Celsius.