News Thursday, SEPTEMBER 09th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Dita Asiedu, first let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Budget / Revenues

A government spokesman said on Wednesday afternoon, that although the final figures on the proposal for next year's budget, have not yet been finalized, the government intends to increase revenues and expenditure for the year 2000. Libor Roucek said that the cabinet has asked Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik to produce a report outlining ways in which state income may be increased. He added that recent statistics have shown that the economy has picked up slightly in the last quarter, something which would facilitate the move.

This plan comes after several leading opposition MP's said they would not approve a budget proposal with a deficit over the estimated 39.8 billion crowns. There has been plenty of pressure on various ministries to cut expenditure, a move seen as very unpopular in the education and public health care sector. Mr Roucek concluded that the final figures for next year's budget will be announced on the 20th September, after the cabinet holds discussions. Experts in the meantime have had few positive things to say on this latest development around the budget for next year and have labeled the plan "incorrect". A representative of Conseq finance said increasing revenues, on the basis of estimates that the economic situation will pick up, is a mistake the government has already made. Another expert criticized the government's move, saying it had made the decision without consulting any economists.

Havel / Rau

German President Johannes Rau arrived in the Czech city of Èeské Budejovice on Wednesday, for a one day visit. Later in the day, he met with his Czech counterpart President Vaclav Havel in the nearby town of Tabor. He welcomed Johannes Rau, and thanked his visitor for Germany's support for the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union. "It seems to me" Havel said, "that Germany is a country which fully understands the importance of European expansion, of breaking down old walls and preventing the growth of new ones". Speaking to journalists Vaclav Havel said he did not sense any objections among western countries to the Czech Republic's becoming a member of the European Union. He swept aside media speculation that many Czechs are indifferent to membership, saying he saw no significant reasons as to why the country could not join the Union. President Havel said it is now up to Czechs to make this happen and that membership will only become a reality, after much hard work.

Speaking at a press conference, after his meeting with Vaclav Havel, Mr Rau said people forced into heavy labour for German companies during the Second world war, should already have received some form of compensation. He said that for moral, humane, economic and political reasons it is in Germany's interests to resolve this issue as soon as possible, since many of those forced to work in the third Reich are now in their eighties. Wednesday's visit to the Czech Republic was part of Johannes Rau's programme of visiting all Germany's neighbours at the start of his term in office. He was elected in May and has already been to Poland and France.

Prague / Plans

The Prague town council on Thursday, is set to begin discussing its controversial plans for the restriction of Prague's infrastructure, housing, industry, services and recreation. The people of Prague have shown plenty of interest in being present and councilors are expecting large numbers of locals to attend by standing in the meeting room and the corridors leading out of the building. There has been a great deal of concern, because the Social democrats, and the opposition Civic Democrat Party and the communists have all said they will support the proposal, which will restrict municipal growth until the year 2010.

Unemployment / Record high

Experts say they are not surprised at the increase in the rate of unemployment in the Czech Republic over August. This comes after recent statistics indicated that the number of jobless people rose by 0.2 percent to a record high from the end of July. In a report by the Czech Press Agency, CTK, analysts said that the increase was due to seasonal trends and the current economic climate in the country. They expect the number of unemployed to increase again in September, as a result of the number of graduates flooding the job market. One expert from Commerzbank capital markets concluded that unless companies change the way they function, the situation would most likely become even worse next year.

Bank / Clients

The Moravia bank, on the verge of collapse, announced on Wednesday, that it intends to keep its clients informed of any new developments. A spokesman said money which the bank owes people in the form of interest will be paid and released a telephone number people can call if in doubt about their savings. This comes after bank showed losses thought to have been caused by mismanagement of funds. All branches were closed last week.

Havel / Condolences / Greece

Czech President Vaclav Havel has expressed his sincere condolences to the families of those killed in Tuesday's earthquake in Greece. In an telegram to his Greek counterpart, Vaclav Havel on Wednesday, offered his sympathies on behalf of the Czech Republic. According to latest statistics, 40 people died and 250 were seriously injured. The Greek government has not yet responded to Czech offers of humanitarian aid. A spokesman for the foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday that it is possible that rescue teams will set off for the region, without being asked to do so by the Greek authorities.

9.9.99 / Love

Finally, the Ninth of September 1999 is widely considered a magical date for lovers, and Thursday will see many registry offices staying open late for people who decided to tie the knot. Registrars all over the Czech Republic have reported record numbers of people of all ages, who plan to turn up on Thursday, and say "I do".

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

Thursday will see an bright, misty, start to the day, with temperatures reaching 26 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. Skies will clear as the day continues, making way for more of the sunshine we've been having lately. There will be only a slight chance of showers overnight, with temperatures dropping to as low as 12 degrees Celsius.

I'm Dita Asiedu and that's the end of the news.