News Wednesday, AUGUST 19th, 1998

Radio Prague E-News Date: August 18, 1998 Written/read by: Vladimir Tax

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and we begin with a brief newsbulletin. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Chamber discussing govt. manifesto

The lower house of the Czech parliament, the Chamber of deputies, is continuing the debate on a government manifesto today. The chamber interrupted its session late on Tuesday after a several-hour discussion and postponed a vote of confidence in the cabinet until this afternoon.

Premier Milos Zeman started the debate on Tuesday by addressing the chamber and asking it to express confidence in the cabinet. Zeman said the Social Democrat government was well aware of the fact that it is a minority administration and pointed out that it would seek a broad consensus among the other political parties for its activities.

Milos Zeman's cabinet is almost certain to succeed in the vote of confidence as the second strongest party, the Civic Democrats, have pledged their support, even though they oppose Social Democratic policies.

On the other hand, the other two right wing parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union said the manifesto contained unrealistic goals and that they will in no case support the new cabinet. The Communists see both positive and negative points in the manifesto and have not said whether they will support it or not.

ODS to carry out monthly checks of party book-keeping

The Civic Democratic Party's accountants will have to report on the party's financial management, the state of its main accounts and money transfers at least once a month, the party announced on Tuesday.

The Civic Democrats ordered a financial audit last autumn, amid suspicions that it had an illegal bank account abroad. While not confirming the suspicion, the audit revealed a number of shortcomings in the party's financial management, including tax evasion and fabrication of false donor names.

Havel still better

President Havel who is convalescencing after intestinal surgery three weeks ago, has been moved out of intensive care, according to the President's doctor Ilja Kotik. Dr. Kotik also confirmed that Havel's health condition was improving satisfactorily.

Renowned scientist died

One of the most prominent and world-renowned Czech scientists, and former president of the Czech Academy of Science, Otto Wichterle, died on Tuesday. Wichterle gained fame as the inventor of the contact lens. For his support of the Prague Spring, the communist regime stripped him of all his official functions in 1969, nevertheless, despite persecution Wichterle managed to continue with his scientific research. During his career, Professor Wichterle won many awards both at home and abroad and received several honorary doctorates from prestigious foreign universities.

Inflation estimated at about 9%

Economic experts expect this year's inflation rate to reach between the 9 and 10 percent mark and the so-called net inflation to be around 5 percent. The most pessimistic estimate, which sees inflation at the end of the year at ten percent, also expects the exchange rate to drop to around 19 crowns per german mark. The main factors which are expected to negatively influence inflation are turbulence on world markets, unfavourable economic results, such as the widening foreign trade deficit, as well as expansive state fiscal policies or political crises.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We can expect a partially cloudy day with afternoon highs between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius. On Thursday and Friday, the weather in the Czech Republic will be influenced by a cold front from the West. It should be cloudy or partially cloudy with scattered showers and the highest daytime temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.