News of Radio Prague

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Government approves lower budget deficit

The Czech government has approved a state budget proposal for 2003 with a deficit of 111.3 billion Czech crowns, instead of the originally planned 157 billion. This reduces the deficit by almost a third and has been welcomed by the junior coalition partner, the Freedom Union, which had been calling for a reduction. The party's acting chairman, Ivan Pilip, said he hoped the proposal would be backed by all party colleagues when the Czech lower house begins to discuss it on November 7th. Whilst the opposition Civic Democrats have said they would vote against the proposal, the Communist Party's decision is yet uncertain. The governing coalition, however, is hoping for the support of Freedom Union MP Hana Marvanova who, in September, was the only government coalition deputy who joined the opposition and voted against the government-sponsored package of tax changes which was designed to generate money to cover the damage caused by the devastating floods in August.

Czech border police detain 47 Asian refugees

Police in North Moravia said on Monday they detained a group of 47 refugees who crossed the Czech-Polish border illegally over the weekend. The refugees, who have been sent back to Poland, mainly came from Vietnam and China and were accompanied by four Polish nationals. The Polish citizens have been charged with illegal crossing the Czech border. If found guilty, they can face up to eight years in prison. According to a police spokesperson, each refugee had paid 1,500 U.S. dollars to get to Germany. The Czech Republic is often used as a gate-way to the west. This year alone, Czech police have detained some 1300 refugees who had entered the country illegally to head for western Europe.

Czech Republic and Paraguay prepare agreement to lift visa requirements

Czech tourists will soon be able to travel to Paraguay without a visa. During a meeting between Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda and his Paraguayan counterpart Jose Moreno on Monday, a mutual agreement to lift the visa requirement was discussed. It is expected to be drafted and signed before the end of the year. With some 500 Czechs travelling to the Latin American country every year, the abolition of the visa restriction is expected to increase and improve cultural and business relations between the two countries.

Opinion poll sees number of dissatisfied Czechs on the rise

The majority of Czechs are unhappy with the current political situation. Results of a public opinion poll released this week by the Centre for Public Opinion Research showed that 58% of Czechs are dissatisfied with the local political scene, whilst only 37% are happy with the current situation. These figures show a slight rise in the number of dissatisfied Czechs since the parliamentary elections in the spring. Since the fall of Communism, the worst figures recorded by the polling agency were in 1990 when 80% of those polled called for a change on the political scene.

Weather

Monday night is expected to have overcast skies with occasional rain and temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius. We can expect early morning fog on Tuesday with skies remaining cloudy throughout the day and temperatures reaching a maximum of 18 degrees Celsius.