News Tuesday, DECEMBER 21st, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look at the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Provisional budget could affect security

According to the Minister of the Interior, Vaclav Grulich, a provisional budget could affect the security of the Czech Republic. If parliament does not accept the government's third budget proposal, the first two of which have been rejected, then a provisional budget will be set up. The Ministry of the Interior will then be able to draw only a portion of the money it needs from this budget to cover its running costs. This, according to Mr. Grulich, could affect the running of the country and it security. The minister warned that this scenario would leave his ministry in grave financial difficulties. The government's latest budget proposal, contains increased funding for the police, which Mr. Grulich says is urgently needed. Without approval of the budget, these resources cannot be obtained from the provisional budget. Prime Minister Milos Zeman's government has until early January to prepare its third budget proposal.

Zantovsky did not have any drugs

The son of senator and former ambassador to the United States, Michael Zantovsky, who was arrested on Friday for selling drugs, apparently did not actually possess any drugs at the time of his arrest. This has been confirmed by the police office in charge of the case. Fifteen-year-old Jonas Zantovsky was arrested with two other boys on Friday for apparently possessing marijuana. Senator Michael Zantovsky has maintained since his son's arrest that he is innocent and did not possess any drugs at the time of his arrest, and that he did not commit any crime.

Havel rested and preparing for hernia operation

Vaclav Havel's personal physician Ilja Kotlik reassured journalists yesterday that the president is not ill. Mr. Havel cut short a state visit to the Vatican on Sunday because of fatigue, raising concern over the state of his health. President Havel has been plagued with health problems over the past few years. His physician told journalists that not only is the president now rested and in good shape, but he has lost ten kilograms as part of a diet that is to prepare him for a hernia operation. The president began his diet in November, and if he sticks to it, then he should be ready for his hernia operation in April. The hernia was caused when Havel suffered a ruptured lower intestine during a visit to Austria in 1998.

Up to three thousand people to protest unpaid wages

Several hundred trade unionists are holding a protest outside parliament over unpaid wages. The head of the Czech Republic's trade unions, Richard Falbr, claimed on Monday that up to three thousand people would attend the demonstration. Many of the trade unionists at the demonstration have not received any pay for several months now. Mr. Falbr emphasised on Monday that this would be a civilised demonstration and not a rabble, but the behaviour of the demonstrators, who have been heckling and jeering politicians this morning has been criticised.

Illegal immigrants to be deported

The Minister of the Interior, Vaclav Grulich, has announced that as of the start of the year 2000, the Czech Republic will begin deporting illegal immigrants from the Ukraine and Russia, in order to reduce the numbers of illegal migrant workers currently residing in the country. The ministry is currently negotiating with the Ministry of Transport to provide the trains for the operation, and with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs over sanctions to be brought against Czech companies that employ these workers. According to Mr. Grulich, companies that employ illegal immigrants from the Ukraine and Russia deprive the treasury of billions in uncollected taxes, and do not pay social and health insurance for their workers. In the future the Ministry of the Interior intends to introduce sanctions that would deprive such companies of their business licenses. Mr. Grulish also wants to introduce visas for both countries, but has been unsuccessful because the Foreign Ministry is opposed to the measure.

Tax integration to cost four billion Czech Crowns

According to the Ministry of Finance, the costs necessary for preparing Czech tax legislation for EU integration will come to four billion Czech Crowns. All necessary changes will have to be made one year before the Czech Republic joins the European Union. Deputy Finance Minister Pavel Dvorak announced today that this will include two laws for administrating direct and indirect taxes and collecting fines for unpaid taxes. Dvorak stated that these laws will fit in with current EU legislation and create adequate sources of information.

And finally the weather.

The weather today will be mostly cloudy with snow showers in places. Temperatures during the day should range between minus four and zero degrees centigrade. The weather will continue like this through until at least Thursday. Better to stay in bed really.

And that was the news.