News Tuesday, MAY 04th, 1999

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.

Falbr initiates tripartite session

Chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions Richard Falbr has met with premier Milos Zeman. They agreed that government and trade union officials will meet in June to discuss the economic situation in the country, unemployment and accession to the EU.

Premier Zeman also promised to help summon a tripartite session which would deal with the growing unemployment rate in the Northern region of Most. In March, the unemployment rate there reached 18 percent and some of the major employers in the region, including Mostecka mining company and a chemical giant Chemopetrol are expected to lay off employees. That could increase unemployment in the region to as much as 30 percent.

CNB cuts interest rates

The Czech National Bank has made further cuts in the interest rates within less than a month. At its session on Monday, the Central Bank board lowered the key two-week repo rate to 6.9 percent from 7.2. The discount rate remained at 6 and the lombard rate at ten percent. Analysts see the decision to cut the repo rate as an attempt to prevent strengthening of the Czech currency. But they differ on whether this is the bottom or whether the Central Bank is ready to decrease it even further.

EP to vote on Temelin

The European Parliament has decided to include resolutions against the Czech power station at Temelin on its agenda as an urgent item. The move was initiated by Austrian members of the European legislature who claim that EU membership candidates must comply with the steepest norms concerning nuclear safety. They also say that completion of Temelin has no sense from an economic point of view. The European Parliament is to discuss the resolution against Temelin on Thursday.

Czech MPs go to Morocco

A delegation of Czech members of parliament is starting a 4- day visit to Morocco today to boost economic ties. Until now, contacts between the Czech Republic and Morocco have not been very intensive, but chairman of the lower house foreign affairs committee Lubomir Zaoralek said there were good trade opportunities in Morocco which is a gateway to North Africa, and he highlighted the good relations between Morocco country and the EU.

Budget deficit in April

The Czech Republic's state budget deficit in April reached 2.4 billion CZK, the finance announced on Monday. In comparison, in the same period last year, the deficit was less than one billion. In March, the state budget had a surplus of 2 billion. This year's budget reckons with a deficit of 31 billion crowns, but according to a recent macroeconomic outlook by the finance ministry, the deficit is likely to reach almost 50 billion.

Austrian govt. protests against Temelin

The Austrian government has once again voiced its opposition to the completion of the nuclear power station at Temelin, near the Czech-Austrian border. The Austrian government has sent a study to the Czech cabinet, in which experts suggest alternatives to Temelin and present serious arguments against its completion. The Austrian experts claim that with regard to the Czech Republic's superfluous electricity production capacity, halting the construction of Temelin would preserve more jobs than the plant would create. They also suggest possible alternative use of the construction site for industrial purposes. According to the Austrian government, the study clearly shows that there are more negative aspects to Temelin than positive.

Bank robbers arrested

Czech police have arrested two men suspected of the second biggest bank robbery in Czech history. The two men allegedly robbed a post office in the city of Olomouc last December, stealing about 20 million CZK. They were detained and charged with armed robbery.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a mostly clear day, afternoon highs should range from 15 to 19 degrees Celsius. And a brief outlook for Wednesday and Thursday: it should be much the same as on Tuesday, partially cloudy with highest daytime temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.