News Tuesday, NOVEMBER 17th, 1998

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Welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start with the headlines:

Those were the main points and now the news in full:

Budget - 2nd draft

Deputies of the lower house of the Czech parliament have received a second draft budget for 1999, after they failed to approve the first one last month. The new draft envisages a deficit amounting to 31 billion crowns, with 574 billion of revenues and 605 billion crowns of expenditures. As expected, the cabinet has met a demand by the House of Deputies and submitted a list of expenditures designed to boost the economic growth. Huge financial means will mainly be targeted on the transport infrastructure and support of agriculture. In its revenue sector the second draft does not count on incomes from laws and amandments which have not yet been approved by the Chamber of deputies. The Social democrat cabinet hopes that the present draft might win support from the Chamber, with the Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Communists voting in favour of it. The parliamentary debate will open next Tuesday.

Senate - Chairman

Acting Christian Democrat leader Jan Kasal has told the CTK news agency that his party would nominate its candidate for the post of the Senate's chairman. He said the present chairman Petr Pithart should run for the post again. Kasal said he believed that Pithart had not disappointed anybody, stressing that this was his own opinion, not a decision made by his party's leadership. The chairman of the Senate, though, is to be a senator appointed by the strongest opposition party - the Civic Democrats - as it had been agreed upon by an opposition agreement between the ODS and the ruling Social Democrats.

Klaus - senators

Civic democrat leader and speaker of parliament Vaclav Klaus was present at a meeting of his party's supporters in Prague's 10th district on Monday. He told people that the ODS senatorial candidate for Prague 10, Milan Kondr, is a better contender than his rival, Dr. Zuzana Roithova, nominated by a centre-right four party coalition including Christian Democrats, a party that Klaus described as lacking any firm principles. Klaus reassured his supporters that his party would not "execute" people, apparently referring to what his Social Democrat rival, premier Milos Zeman, said on Saturday, namely that the unsuccessful Social democrat candidates for the senatorial seats would lose their party positions.

West European Union meets in Rome

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy are in Rome, attending an annual autumn session of the West European Union's Ministerial Council. According to the West European Union's General secretary Jose Culileiro, the Council discusses above all the possibilities of further development of European defence, including possible incorporation of the WEU into the European Union. The ministers will also discuss closer coordination with the European Union, especially joint readiness in the event of crises in the region. Minister Jan Kavan has underlined the Czech Republic's preparedness to become an associate member of the WEU, which he considers a vital concept of the European defence identity.

US Sudeten Germans - compensations

US-based organizations of Sudeten German post-war expellees hope to succeed in their fight to regain confiscated property and receive compensation, according to an article in today's issue of Der Spiegel. The weekly writes that Sudeten Germans living in the United States intend to "make use of the US legal system" like holocaust victims, and file lawsuits against Czech banks and insurance agencies represented in America. According to the weekly, the Sudeten landsmanschaft's press spokesman Konrad Badenheuer has confirmed that during the post-war expulsions, bank accounts and insurance contracts were confiscated by Czechoslovak authorities.

Weather

Now a quick look at the weather: it will be cloudy to overcast with occasional snow showers, daytime highs will range between minus 1 and plus 3 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.