A group of MPs, civil servants and key figures from civil society among the 10 new European Union member states, will travel to two developing countries on Saturday on a trip sponsored by the Dutch government, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency. The Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation, Agnes van Ardenne, said the week-long trip to Uganda and Vietnam was meant to give the accession countries the opportunity to develop in their new role as aid donor — rather than recipient — states.
The Ministry of Finance said on Friday it would amend the law on building and loan institutions in order to allow participants to be able to transfer their so-called "construction savings" schemes to other institutions without penalties. The move came after the Czech anti-monopoly office this week imposed a record high fine of 484 million crowns on the country's six building and loans for having allegedly colluded on prices. The banks, which are likely to appeal the decision, were found to have taken advantage of the fact that building and loan customers cannot switch to other institutions without losing state subsidies.
The Czech crown strengthened by Kc0.14 to Kc31.80/EUR on enthusiam by foreign investors for growth prospects in Central European region, Komercni banka's dealing section told the CTK news agency. The crown's firming is also likely due to higher interest Mates, analysts said. The Czech National Bank on Thursday raised interest rates by quarter a point to 2.50 percent. The market had anticipated the tightening of monetary policy and showed no major reaction to the move itself.
Libor Capilini has won bronze for the Czech Republic in the modern pentathlon at the Olympic Games in Athens. It is the first Czech medal since 1976 in the event, which consists of shooting, fencing, swimming, showjumping and a 3000m run. Capilini's success brings the Czech medal tally at Athens to eight.
The leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has been questioned over allegations his party tried to bribe a government MP. Zdenek Koristka of the Freedom Union says Mr Topolanek's party offered him 10 million crowns (over 300,000 euros) to bring down the government in a confidence vote. The Civic Democrat leader - who strongly denies the claim - was questioned by police on Thursday, two days after his party filed slander charges against Mr Koristka.
The ice hockey stadium in the west Bohemian town of Litvinov is to be renamed the Ivan Hlinka Stadium, in honour of the much respected player and coach, who tragically died in a car crash last week. Mr Hlinka began playing for Litvinov in 1962 at the age of 12, and stayed at the club for 19 years. After a successful career as a player he coached the Czech team which won gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Former dissident John Bok, who has been on hunger strike since Monday, says he wants to increase pressure on Stanislav Gross to resign as prime minister. Mr Bok said he was inspired to begin the hunger strike by protests against Mr Gross's appointment of Pavel Pribyl as head of the Office of the Government. Mr Pribyl resigned when evidence emerged a riot police unit he commanded in 1989 used violence against anti-Communist protesters.
One of the greatest Czech athletes of all time, javelin thrower Jan Zelezny, has been elected a member of the International Olympic Committee for the second time. Zelezny received the second highest number of votes among 29 candidates in Athens on Thursday. The javelin legend has three Olympic gold medals and will be hoping to add to that collection on Saturday evening, when he competes at the Games for the last time.
The Czech National Bank has - as expected - decided to raise interest rates by 0.25 percentage points. On Friday the repo rate will grow to 2.50 percent, the discount rate will rise to 1.50 percent and the Lombard rate to 3.50 percent, a spokesman for the Bank said on Thursday. The increase will result in higher interest rates on loans and deposits at commercial banks.