News Sunday, OCTOBER 18th, 1998

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Worries over Havel's health

Czech President Vaclav Havel may have to postpone a trip to London next week because of fatigue, the president's doctor Ilja Kotik said. President Havel is planning to visit Britain next week but the final decision is still to be made. Havel has twice received lengthy hospital treatment this year because of respiratory problems and has had a busy schedule recently, with trips to the United States, Germany, Austria and Belgium. He also chaired an international conference "Forum 2000" this week.

Svoboda prepares 3 versions of deficit

Czech Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda has prepared three new drafts of the state budget for 1999 with different levels of deficit. He told CTK that there would also be changes on the revenue side of the budget. Saturday's daily PRAVO reported that the proposed deficits range from 20 to 40 billion crowns. Originally, the government had planned a deficit of 27 billion crowns, but the chamber of deputies rejected the draft.

Svehla rejects criticism

Czech National Bank spokesman Martin Svehla has rejected criticism of the Central Bank's policies voiced by chamber of deputies speaker Vaclav Klaus and deputy premier Pavel Mertlik. Svehla rejected Klaus's and Mertlik's accusations that the Central Bank's overly restrictive policy and too ambitious inflation goals hamper economic development. Svehla said he saw the current stagnation of the Czech economy as a result of an economic imbalance that originated back in 1994.

Journalists should have clean hands as well

Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman has warned journalists that they, too, may be targeted by the clean-hands anti-corruption campaign. Zeman said at the Social Democratic Party leadership meeting on Saturday that the core of the scheme should be adopting better legislation against economic crime and an reassessment of questionable privatisation cases.

Zeman serious about leaving

Mr Zeman also reiterated his earlier announcement that he is planning to leave the post of party chairman by the year 2001. He said that he had already fulfilled two of three goals he had set for himself, that is making the Social Democrats the strongest political party, and making it a government party. He wants to fulfil the third goal -- to rule the country well -- during his term in office.

Gross & Buzkova cast doubt upon "opposition agreement"

Senior Social Democrat officials and deputy speakers of the chamber of deputies, Stanislav Gross and Petra Buzkova have questioned the value of the so-called opposition agreement between their party and the main opposition Civic Democrats. Gross said at the Social Democratic Party leadership meeting on Saturday that the party should adopt a pragmatic approach towards the deal. He pointed out that the Civic Democrats had broken many agreements in the past and added that the Social Democrats should look for allies among other parties as well. And Petra Buzkova described the agreement as a stopgap measure, and not the Social Democrats' aim.

Road traffic safety

The cabinet is to discuss a plan on increasing road traffic safety. The document, prepared by the interior ministry, reacts to a dramatically increasing number of accidents, with death toll twice as high as for example, in Great Britain. The material is similar to a new European Union concept, and focuses mainly on prevention of accidents and an improvement of the system of road signs.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. On Sunday, a cold front should be moving across the Czech Republic, bringing cloudy and rainy weather with afternoon highs between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius. Monday and Tuesday should be cloudy or partially cloudy with highest daytime temperatures around ten degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.