Press Review

Speculation about the establishment of a new right-of-centre political party, the ongoing disputes surrounding the nuclear power station at Temelin and petty politicking among the parties of the Four-Party Coalition make the main headlines in the newspapers today.

Some of the papers also carry reports of the resignation of deputy transport minister, Pavel Braha, who was allegedly using a false university diploma. Mr Braha claimed he had a diploma from Ukraine's Kiev University, but journalists discovered that no-one called Pavel Braha had ever studied at the university.

LIDOVE NOVINY leads with a report on preparations for the establishment of a new right-of-centre political party. The paper writes that a group of intellectuals and businessmen want to set up a party in the summer, in time to canvass votes for the 2002 general elections.

Some of these people are well-known public personalities, such as musician and composer Michael Kocab, the head of the National Economy Institute Jan Svejnar, political analyst Jiri Pehe and many others.

The new party is seen as a rival to the right-of-centre Four-Party coalition. For the time being, there's an information embargo on the party's manifesto, as its founding fathers want to present the public with a complete, ready-to-use programme.

Today's PRAVO quotes foreign minister Jan Kavan, who describes the recent UN resolution on human rights violations in Cuba as a success for Czech diplomacy. The paper says that paradoxically, both the authorities in Havana and opponents of Fidel Castro's regime are claiming victory over the resolution.

MLADA FRONTA DNES presents readers with a warning uttered by Prime Minister Milos Zeman - he said that the government was planning to take harsh measures against anyone who tries to avoid paying their taxes. Revenue Offices estimate tax arrears at around 102 billion Czech crowns, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of the state budget.

However, experts are rather sceptical whether the state will be able to collect all those taxes. MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes a study by the finance ministry which says only 10 - 15 percent of that amount can be recovered. Nevertheless, the prospects for all tax-defaulters as outlined by Mr. Zeman is simple - a prison cell.

The business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY analyses the Czech social welfare system. The paper discovered that in comparison with other European countries, the Czech Republic has one of the highest levels of redistribution of assets with one of the heaviest tax burdens. Although it has been more than a decade since the fall of the socialist regime, European experts consider the Czech Republic a typical welfare state, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes.