News of Radio Prague
Talks continue on forming new governing coalition
Talks continue on forming a center left coalition government in the Czech Republic. The Social Democrats, who won the June parliamentary elections, are holding a new round of talks with the centrist Christian Democrats and the liberal Freedom Union in an effort to remove the remaining obstacles standing in the way of a joint policy programme. According to the party leaders agreement appears to be in sight on tax policy and a timeframe for cutbacks in the burgeoning public deficit but there are still major differences on sensitive issues such as pension reform, deregulation of rents and the introduction of universal child subsidies. Monday's talks are also expected to address the division of government posts.
Spidla to meet Havel on Tuesday
The Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla is to meet with President Vaclav Havel on Tuesday to report on the negotiations in person. The President has been very supportive of the talks, saying that under the circumstances a coalition government between these parties was the best possible scenario.
Dalai Lama in Prague
The Dalai Lama who is in the Czech Republic to attend roundtable talks on the role and responsibility of religion in the contemporary world is due to meet with President Havel on Tuesday. During Vaclav Havel's twelve years in office he and the Dalai Lama established excellent relations and the Tibetan spiritual leader is rarely absent from the philosophical gatherings which take place under the auspices of the Czech head of state. On Monday the Dalai Lama is said to have devoted time to meditation and for private talks with Czech and foreign visitors who had long sought an audience with him. The official part of his visit to the Czech Republic begins on Tuesday.
Search continues for pilot of crashed plane
A search is underway in upper Austria for the remains of a light aircraft which crashed into the river Inn on its flight from Karlovy Vary to Salzburg on Sunday. According to eye witnesses the two seater plane descended dangerously low, tearing through electricity wires and crashing into the river. Rescue workers were able to recover parts of the plane but no trace was found of the pilot. It is still not clear who was piloting the plane and whether or not the plane was carrying a second passenger.
Crown reaches new high against Euro
The Czech crown has reached a new high against the Euro trading at 29 crowns 10 halers per Euro on Monday afternoon. Economists predict it will set a new record unless the Central Bank intervenes. The strengthening of the Czech crown has been welcomed by Czech tourists abroad but economic analysts warn that at the present rate it is seriously damaging the economy. Many local exporters have affected lay-offs and some are said to be on the brink of bankruptcy. Analysts say that unless action is taken immediately the Czech Republic will face growing unemployment and a drop in GDP. The Central Bank's executive board met last Thursday to consider the situation, but said that at this point intervention would be premature.
State budget deficit could be much steeper than anticipated
The Czech finance ministry has forecast this year's state budget deficit at around 80 billion Czech crowns, as compared to the 46.2 billion crown deficit originally approved by Parliament. A finance ministry spokesman said that the optimistic figures for the first six months should not be overestimated, since the deficit prognosis for the second half of the year was far from good. The government's budgetary expenditures in the second half of the year are expected to exceed the planned figure by approximately 21.5 billion and the state budget income is expected to be 13.5 billion crowns lower that expected, largely due to lower tax revenues.
Czechs to pay higher rents in state flats
As of July 1st, regulated rents in state owned flats are expected to rise by up to seven percent, depending on the size of the flat. Town halls which own state flats will increase rents as much as the government controlled deregulation process allows. The pace of rent deregulation is a hotly debated issue in the Czech Republic and is likely to be a bone of contention in the current coalition talks. The Social Democratic Party which won the June elections by promising voters a Scandinavia style welfare state is in favour of a very gradual liberalization of rents.
Tuesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with afternoon temps between 21 and 25 degs in the western parts of the country, and noticeably higher between 24 and 29 degs in Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic. A belt of rain moving in from the West should bring scattered showers and possibly thunderstorms in the late afternoon hours. Wednesday's temp have been forecast at between 22 to 26 degs C in the western parts of the Czech Republic, 28 degs C in Moravia.