Press Review

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You can take your pick from a number of topics making the front pages of today's Czech dailies, although it has to be said that the main story in the headlines this Friday is yesterday's passing of a government bill in the lower house approving the financing for 24 new Gripen fighter jets. The bill passed by just three votes on Thursday in a decision which went 98 for and 95 against.

You can take your pick from a number of topics making the front pages of today's Czech dailies, although it has to be said that the main story in the headlines this Friday is yesterday's passing of a government bill in the lower house approving the financing for 24 new Gripen fighter jets. The bill passed by just three votes on Thursday in a decision which went 98 for and 95 against.

Pravo features a photo of a somewhat concerned-looking Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik on its cover, a photo taken before the vote got under way. Meanwhile, Hospodarske noviny tallies up the cost of the much-debated project at nearly 60 billion crowns.

It's not planes but a gaff by the Finance Ministry though, that interests Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes: the paper writes that an unprecedented mistake by the Finance Ministry this year could cost the Czech state billions of crowns. According to the paper, Czech firms producing or importing gasoline and petroleum fuels have been paying the wrong consumer tax for the last five months, a mix-up caused by changes in customs tariffs at the beginning of 2002.

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that the changes by the Finance Ministry were not complemented by changes in the tax law, rendering the current tariffs invalid, and giving firms a loophole. Mlada fronta Dnes quotes former Finance Minister Ivan Pilip as saying the situation is serious because firms will now be able to go ahead and demand their taxes be returned.

And according to Mr Pilip, they will succeed. Such demands, writes Mlada fronta Dnes, would mean sizeable losses for the state, in a year when the Czech Republic had estimated consumer tax returns on gasoline and petroleum fuels would top a whopping 46 billion crowns.

Turning now to another story in Pravo now, the paper features a follow-up on the case of nine-month-old "Midnight Storm", the little girl whose parents got into trouble with the authorities for failing to officially register the baby's existence.

Pravo writes the country's independent Ombudsman Otakar Motejl is planning to investigate the reasons behind a court order which forced the healthy nine-month-old girl to be taken from her parents and placed in a foster nursery home.

Local social workers are defending their decision to apply for the court order on the grounds that the baby had not been officially registered and therefore had no health insurance. But says the mother, who has been at the centre with her daughter everyday, all of the requirements have now been fulfilled, and now she longs to get her daughter back.

And finally for this Friday's Press Review "Are we giving up reading?"; that is the question posed by Hospodarske noviny's week-end supplement, in an article that examines how books are faring in the age of new technologies.

Hospodarske noviny writes that 9 seconds is the average length of time viewers can concentrate on one subject on the internet, obviously not very long, and examines the impact of such media on our ability to read. Included in the article, a quote by British philosopher Roger Scruton saying "People shouldn't chase so much after prosperity. They should slow down. Have a family. Read books."