News Tuesday, JANUARY 04th, 2000

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

Those were the main points and now for the news in more detail.

House to focus on "European" legislation this year

The Lower House of the Czech parliament has taken steps to speed up the adoption of legislation necessary for the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union.

The Chamber plans to pass several dozen important bills by the middle of the year when the EU is expected to name new members. The speeding up of the adoption of EU legislation should help compensate for the Czech Republic's lagging behind in the accession process.

FinMin expects opposition to support 2000 budget

The government has produced another version of the draft state budget for this year and included in it almost all demands raised by the Chamber of Deputies. Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik expressed optimism that the third version of the budget would be passed by the Lower House.

The government has lowered the planned deficit to 35 billion crowns from 42 billion after the parliament rejected two previous versions of the budget, urging the cabinet to cut the deficit.

Prime minister Milos Zeman is to meet lower house speaker and opposition leader Vaclav Klaus to discuss the budget before it is presented to the Lower House for the third time.

Y2K did not hit Czech Rep.

There have been no serious problems with the millennium bug in the Czech Republic. State administration bodies, the army, police and health facilities have not reported any problems. The head of the National Coordination Center for Y2K, Jeronym Prochazka, told a press conference on Monday that only three regional offices reported minor problems and these were fixed the same day. However, Prochazka did not rule out that some problems may arise later in January. He also warned that 29 February would be another crisis date but said that the National Coordination Center was making preparations for this date as well.

Central Bank plans to hit bottom of inflation target

The Czech National Bank intends to keep the inflation rate in the year 2000 between 3.5 and 5.5 percent and will attempt to keep it at the bottom of this range. The Central Bank expects negative development at the beginning of the year due to price deregulation but other factors throughout the year are expected to help keep down inflation. The main possible risk is the oil price development in the second half of the year.

Third mobile operator on time

The third mobile telephone operator in the Czech Republic, Cesky Mobil, has confirmed that the first part of its network will be operational as of 8 January, as planned. There has been much doubt recently whether Cesky Mobil would be able to complete the first part of the infrastructure on time. According to the latest information, the network will be available only in some of the largest Czech cities and with limited features. Cesky Mobil was selected in a controversial public tender three months ago and some of the other applicants are still considering lodging a complaint against the procedure.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a partially cloudy day, with afternoon highs between zero and 5 degrees Celsius. And a brief outlook for the next two days -- weather in the Czech Republic should be influenced by a high-pressure area from the South-West. It should be partially cloudy, with fogs or low cloud formations in some parts of the country. Nighttime lows should drop slightly below zero, the highest daytime temperatures should range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.