News of Radio Prague

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Czech National Bank cuts interest rates to historic low

The Czech National Bank has cut interest rates to historic lows for the sixth time in less than a year. The quarter-point rate cuts announced by the Czech National Bank will reduce the discount rate to 1.75 per cent, the two-week repo rate to 2.75 per cent, and the Lombard rate to 3.75 per cent. Analysts said the reductions were expected in light of the strong Czech currency, favourable inflation rates and a possible slowdown in the domestic economy as well as the economy of its main trading partner, Germany.

Flood emergency ends in Prague, but clean-up continues

The authorities in Prague announced on Thursday that the state of emergency put in place during the summer's severe floods had been lifted, although the clean-up operation continues. A city spokesman said public services in the capital will not return to normal until at least next spring, while the city is still struggling to raise funds to cover clean-up and repair costs totalling about 1 billion dollars. The state of emergency began in August when the Vltava River burst its banks and forced 50,000 people to evacuate low-lying areas. Some people are still waiting to be allowed home.

Environment minister delays reopening of Spolana chemical plant

The environment minister has ordered the Spolana chemical works to reopen only those sections of the factory which can be guaranteed safe. Spolana, situated to the north of Prague, was heavily damaged during the floods, and tonnes of hazardous chemicals either washed into the River Elbe or were released into the air during the disaster. Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek said he had asked Spolana's director to restart only those operations that threatened neither the environment nor the health of local inhabitants.

Havel well enough to return to work

President Vaclav Havel returned to work on Thursday after recovering from the latest bout of his chronic breathing illness. The 66-year-old president, whose final term in office ends in February next year, fell ill last week with an inflammation of the upper respiratory system, and was forced to cancel his programme for several days.

Senior Communist Party official to visit Iraq

Miroslav Ransdorf, deputy chairman of the Communist Party, will visit Iraq next week as part of a Council of Europe delegation. Mr Ransdorf, a critic of U.S. policy in the Middle East, said the aim of the mission will be to verify whether Iraq is complying with U.N. resolutions on weapons of mass destruction. The five-member mission is being organised by the United European Left, one of the five political groups in the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

Police file charges over neo-Nazi CDs

Police in the Central Bohemia area say nine people have been charged with promoting racial hatred after distributing compact discs by neo-Nazi groups. A police spokeswoman said the nine had distributed the CDs and other material at skinhead concerts in the Rakovnik and Prague-East area.

Weather forecast

Friday will be cloudy with sunny intervals, and the chance of showers and early morning fog in places. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 8 to 12 degrees Celsius.