News Wednesday, JULY 05th, 2000

The Lower House of Parliament has set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the hurried take-over of the ailing IPB bank

The Lower House of Parliament has set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the hurried take-over of the ailing IPB bank by its rival CSOB last month. The commission is to have ten members – two from each of the five political parties represented in Parliament - and it is to present its findings to the Lower house by June of next year at the latest. Although the parliamentary commission was set up at the initiative of the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, party leader Vaclav Klaus questioned its raison d'etre after the initial proposal was modified on the grounds of a parliamentary debate. "This commission is a far cry from the investigation we had in mind – under the present circumstances I see it as a waste of time and money," Klaus told reporters. The Civic Democrats have criticized the manner in which the IPB was subjected to forced administration and suggest that an influential interest group was behind the bank's swift sale to CSOB.

In an effort to prevent similar controversies the Lower House on Tuesday re- established a permanent parliamentary commission for the banking sector. The commission has been re-established after a two year break.

Greens protest against nuclear power plant

Environment activists are making a last-ditch attempt to prevent the launching of a controversial nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. They have pitched tents outside Temlin's main gates and are demanding that a test-operation due to be launched in a matter of weeks be postponed until a national referendum can be held to decide the plant's future. The environmental organization Greenpeace says it has insider information from Temelin's operator, the utilities company CEZ, indicating that the plant is not safe. However the National Nuclear Safety Agency argues that Greenpeace's information is stale and the shortcomings it specifies have long been eliminated. CEZ is expected to get permission to stoke the plant with nuclear fuel in a matter of days.

The plant is located a mere 20 km from the Austrian border and protests are growing there as well. Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel said on Tuesday that the Austrian government had a great deal of understanding for these concerns and would do its utmost to defend Austrian interests. Austria's foreign and environment ministers are expected to put more pressure on Prague where the Czech government has indicated it will put no hurdles in the way of Temelin's launching.

Proposed law aims to abolish schools for the handicapped

An amendment to the Czech Republic's education law aims to abolish schools for the mentally handicapped. The amendment envisages that in the future physically handicapped or mentally retarded children should study in special classes at regular schools. This is being done in an effort to prevent various forms of discrimination and help the young generation to accept physically handicapped individuals. A great deal has been said of late about the discrimination of Romany children who are transferred to schools for the mentally handicapped after failing to keep up with the class due to language or behavioral problems. According to statistics 70% of all Roma children in this country currently attend schools for the mentally handicapped.

And finally a look at the weather: Wednesday and Thursday are expected to bring partly cloudy skies with scattered showers and day temps between 19 and 23 degs C. Nighttime lows between 10 and 14 degs C.