News Thursday, DECEMBER 17th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start as usual with the news. First the headlines:

Those were the main points and now the news in more detail:

Savings bank

At its late night session on Wednesday, the Czech cabinet approved a concrete list of bad loans provided by the country's biggest savings bank - Ceska sporitelna. The government has decided to buy off about 10 billion crowns' worth of bad credits, which are to be transferred to the Konsolidacni bank by the end of the year. However, the cabinet has not disclosed the names of the indebted enterprises. Corrective items to the tune of eight billion crowns will be shared on a roughly equal basis by Konsolidacni bank and Ceska sporitelna.

New Senate Chairwoman

Libuse Benesova from the Civic democratic party is the new chairwoman of the Senate. The upper house of the Czech parliament elected its new chairperson on Wednesday, in two rounds of voting. Benesova, the leading contender for the post. didn't have an easy time of it. She was defeated in the first round of a secret ballot by Petr Pithart, the former Senate chairman, to whom 37 out of 79 senators present gave their votes. In the second round, however, Benesova received 40, while Pithart--nominated by a four party right-of-centre coalition--could only manage 37. Benesova's support from the Social democrat senators was in accord with a pact signed between the two parties after the June parliamentary elections. Dagmar Lastovecka from the Civic democratic party was the only person who was not sworn in as a senator, since the Supreme Court ruled her victory null and void last week because, contrary to Czech law, she had appeared in mass media after the pre- election campaign was over. Her party has appealed this verdict, and turned to the Constitutional court in Brno.

Havel - health

The Czech president's personal physician, Ilja Kotik, gave a press conference in Prague on Wednesday, where he informed journalists about president Havel's state of health. Over the past weekend, Havel contracted a mild viral infection in his upper respiratory tract, the most vulnerable part of his body. In 1996, president Havel underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour from his right lung. Kotik told newspeople on Wednesday that he had given his patient medicaments similar to antibiotics that should prevent the growth of micro- organisms, and added that the president will receive home care at Lany chateau till the end of the week.

Klaus to meet parliamentarians

Speaker of parliament Vaclav Klaus has been holding talks with chairmen of the parliamentary clubs. The main topic under discussion is the tasks and work of the lower house of the Czech parliament - the Chamber of deputies. Thursday's meeting follows a discussion held last week, where Vaclav Klaus, premier Milos Zeman, TU leader Richard Falbr and the central bank governor Josef Tosovsky discussed possible ways out of the present economic crisis in the Czech Republic.

BIS - more money

After an hour-long closed session on Wednesday, members of the parliamentary Defence and Security Committee recommended that the House of Deputies increase next year's budget for the Security information service, the BIS, by 40 million crowns. If the House of deputies approves this proposal, the BIS would get some 750 million crowns, according to an ODS member of the Committee, Tomas Kladivko. The proposal envisages the 40 million crowns being transferred to the BIS from the budget of the Governmental Office. The Committee also endorsed next year's budget for the Czech Defence ministry. Its expenditures next year will amount, according to estimates, to 41.5 billion crowns.


And finally a quick look at the weather: Thursday will be a relatively warm day due to a high pressure area moving in from the South West. The skies will be partly cloudy with scattered rain showers. Daytime highs should range between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.