Czech striker Milan Baros - who suffered an injury to his foot earlier - is still doubtful for the Czechs' debut on Monday in the football World Cup. Baros is struggling to be fit for the game, in which the Czech Republic faces the US. Doctors are reportedly optimistic, saying it is 'quite probable' Baros will be ready for the game. The striker is considered to be one of the squad's key players. So far he has 49 caps for his country, during which he scored 27 goals.
Numbers released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday have shown
that the economy saw record growth in the first quarter of 2006,
improving from 5.4 to 7.4 percent year-on-year. The improvement,
fuelled by higher foreign trade, investment, industrial production, and
household spending, was largely expected by analysts. Some observers
have stated that the fast growth will help the Czech economy approach
the euro zone more quickly. On Friday, outgoing Prime Minister Jiri
Paroubek reacted to the information saying it was "unfortunate for his
party" the news came a week after the election.
The Civic Democrats' Mirek Topolanek, meanwhile, indicated that all parties should make use of the situation to push for lowering unemployment as well as the public debt.
The outgoing Defence Minister Karel Kunhl has signed a major deal between the Czech Republic and Austrian manufacturer Steyr for some 200 armoured personnel carriers. The deal is worth around 1 billion US dollars and is the most expensive order in the Czech military's history. The deal was expected to be signed earlier in the year but was postponed due to legal complaints by an unsuccessful bidder. Now, the signing by an outgoing minister whose party, the Freedom Union, failed to get re-elected to the lower house, has been criticised by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The party's deputy leader Petr Necas has nevertheless said that the Civic Democrats will respect the venture.
A forty-year-old man from the Czech Republic has been arrested on the border between Turkey and Greece, apparently smuggling some 30 kilograms of heroin, worth the equivalent of around 1 million US dollars on the Czech black market. The drug was reportedly hidden in sixty packets in his car. The discovery was made by customs officials using a specially-trained sniffer dog.
The Social Democrats have confirmed that they will not support a centre-right government led by the Civic Democratic Party, which won last week's general election. Members from both parties met officially for the first time on Friday to discuss possibilities for the country's future. The Civic Democrats have been negotiating to form a centre-right government with the Christian Democrats, and the Greens, but any such coalition will be one mandate short of the majority needed in the lower house. After coming in second in the election last week the Social Democrats under Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said that they would only be willing to support a caretaker government, and on Friday Jiri Paroubek reiterated that the party had not changed its stance. Mirek Topolanek, the head of the Civic Democrats, has pointed out that Friday's meeting was only the beginning of negotiations.
The Supervision department of the Interior Ministry will review all charges pressed in the so-called 'Kubice case'. Four days ahead of the general election Jan Kubice, a highly placed police official from the country's squad against organised crime, presented a confidential report in the lower house suggesting that organised crime was gaining influence in the state administration. Parts of the report were leaked to the media. Mr Kubice has denied any role in that leak or any wrongdoing, but he is being sued, for instance, by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek for speculation allegedly in part of the report that Mr Paroubek had sexually-abused the daughter of a family friend.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill on that would have substantial changes in the health care sector, the president's spokesman Petr Hajek said on Friday. Mr Klaus was reportedly critical of the bill - backed by health Minister David Rath - because in his view it would have unjustly centralised key decisions on agreements between health facilities and health insurance companies in the hands of the health minister - denying contractual freedom. The bill is the fourth that Mr Klaus vetoed in recent days; following general elections his decision can not be overridden by the lower house.
An OECD official has warned the Czech Republic of the risks involved in pushing through a 15-percent flat tax, one of the fundamental reforms proposed by the election-winning right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The head of the OECD's country studies division, Andreas Woergoetter, said the introduction of a 15-percent flat tax could cause a serious revenue shortfall and a flat tax of such an extent would make it necessary to look for savings in other areas. If these savings were not found, he said, fiscal policy could be derailed. One of the Civic Democrats' key policies is a flat 15-percent level of income tax and VAT, renewed privatisations, shrinking the state sector and combating corruption.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill on compensatory alimony paid by the state for children from single-parent low-income families in cases where one of the parents does not fulfil this duty, a spokesperson for the president said on Thursday. Mr Klaus argues that the bill supports parents' lack of responsibility for their children. The Social Democrats and the Communists have criticised his decision.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has apologised for a controversial speech he made on Saturday evening questioning the result of the general election in which his Social Democrats came second. At a news conference on Thursday, Mr Paroubek said that while the subject of his speech was rational, the means of expression he used were wrong. Mr Paroubek also called his emotional speech "the first serious mistake he had made in his 13 months in office". In his Saturday speech, Prime Minister Paroubek accused a number of Czech journalists of being mercenaries of the Civic Democratic Party and also likened the party's policies to the Communist takeover in 1948.