News Tuesday, MAY 11th, 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.

Lower house begins May session

The lower house of the Czech parliament begins its May session today. It should discuss the government's report on the state of Czech society and vote on several important proposals, such as an increase in consumer tax, the law on freedom of information and an increase in the state budget deficit by one billion crowns which would be used to aid Kosovo refugees.

Govt helps Komercni bank

The cabinet has approved a capital increase in Komercni bank by 9.5 billion crowns. This will in fact double the bank's base capital before planned privatisation. Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda said the state was ready to fully cover the capital increase if the other shareholders are not interested. Svoboda said the step was necessary in order to stabilize the bank to make the privatisation process smooth. The state owns a 49-percent stake in Komercni banka and if it carried out the capital increase itself, the stake would rise to about 74 percent.

General manager of Komercni banka Jan Kollert has welcomed the decision, saying it was a reasonable short-term investment which will pay back when the state sells its stake in the bank.

Rychetsky: next EC assessment might be unfavourable as well

Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky fears that the European Commission's assessment of the Czech integration progress would be again unfavourable because the cabinet has failed to harmonise Czech law with EU legislation. Nevertheless, Rychetsky said, the cabinet is doing its best to compensate for the delay. But he said that although the pace of harmonisation had increased, it was still unsatisfactory.

ComNet Prague '99 begins

The 7th international trade fair ComNet begins at the Prague Exhibition Ground today. 170 companies are presenting their products in the field of telecommunications and computer network technology. The trade fair is accompanied by a two-day conference on information and communication technologies in commerce. Last year, the turn-out reached almost 20 thousand.

Czechs beat Sweden, proceed to semifinals

Ice hockey - Olympic gold medalists the Czech Republic beat reigning champions Sweden 2-0 at the world ice hockey championships on Monday. The victory sent Czechs to the semifinals and knocked Russia out of the tournament. The Czechs finished the second round with two wins and one loss while Sweden advanced with an identical record. The Czechs now face Canada in a two-game semifinal series beginning on Wednesday while Sweden square off against Nordic rivals Finland.

2/3 of Czech would support Temelin in referendum

Almost two thirds of Czechs would support the completion of the Temelin nuclear power station if there were a referendum on the issue. According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency, 60 percent of those asked would vote in favour of the completion of the project while 40 percent poll respondents would be against. The future of Temelin is to be decided by the government on Wednesday.

Another group of Kosovars arrive in CR

Another airplane with Kosovo refugees landed at the Ostrava- Moshnov airport on Monday. It brought a group of 130 Kosovars, mainly women and children. After a two-day quarantine they will be transferred to an accommodation facility.

Meanwhile, a diarrhoea epidemic has broken out in one of the refugee camps in the Czech Republic which accommodates Kosovo refugees. Doctors say the reason may be the diet which is completely different from what the Kosovan people are used to in their homeland.

Stronger protection for embassies

Czech police see no reason to strengthen the protection of the embassies of NATO member states in Prague in connection with NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. Czech police spokeswoman Eva Pokorna said protection of the embassies by the Czech police was strengthened when the military campaign began. She added that the current measures were adequate and there was no reason for any more protection in response to the with protest demonstrations in China.

Czech Republic in UNHRC

The Czech Republic has been re-elected as a member of the UN human rights commission. The Czech Republic has been a member of the commission for the past two years. In April, the commission approved its draft resolution against human rights abuse in Cuba, while the previous year, it rejected a similar resolution proposed by the United States.

CPI up 0.3 percent

The consumer price index in April rose by 0.3 percent, after a series of decreases over the last six months. The Czech Statistical Office announced that the 12-month inflation rate was 2.5 percent and the so-called net inflation rose by 0.4 percent from the previous month.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a partially cloudy day, afternoon highs should range from 17 to 21 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday should be rather cloudy with scattered showers, with highest daytime temperatures just under 20 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.