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Czech news Czech news
by Euro Reporter
2010-01-09 10:12:41
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Hussite Church celebrating 90 years of existence

The Czechoslovak Hussite Church served a mass at Saint Nicholas Church at Prague's Old Town Square to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its foundation.  The mass was served by Patriarch Tomas Butta and attended by dignitaries of other churches. The church-goers were also greeted by Catholic Bishop Frantisek Radkovsky from Plzen, west Bohemia, and Joel Ruml, chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches.

The Czechoslovak Hussite Church was established exactly 90 years ago and it was officially proclaimed three days later in Saint Nicholas Church. In 1920, the Czechoslovak Hussite Church broke away from the Catholic Church. At first, it was headed by a group of reform-minded Catholic clerics who demanded the renewal of the church. They wanted the mass to be served in the national language, and sought greater involvement of laymen in the church administration and voluntary celibacy of priests.

"The reforms demanded by the clerics in 1920 at the Vatican were basically fulfilled at a Vatican council some 50 years later," female Bishop Jana Silerova said. "We can say with some pride that we were ahead of our time as an avant-garde," Silerova said. The Catholic Church is still facing another two big challenges, voluntary celibacy and female ordination, she added. "Perhaps this will not take another 50 years," Silerova said.  The Czechoslovak Hussite Church claims the heritage of Czech reformation, launched by Jan Hus (John Huss), a cleric burnt at the stake in 1415 for his views with which he challenged the Catholic hierarchy. The church has cross and chalice as its symbols.


Czech Airlines sells headquarters to Prague Airport

National carrier Czech Airlines (ČSA) may be expecting a forecast that remains in the red for 2010, but recent events, including a huge asset sale announced Dec. 30, have given reason to hope that the troubled airliner could avoid bankruptcy and even post a profit in 2011. ČSA spokeswoman Hana Hejsková told The Prague Post that 2010 will predominantly be about restructuring the company for the long term. "Czech Airlines' plan for long-term stabilization of the company is already under way," she said. "It embodies a great many measures."

At the end of December, ČSA announced and started projects that included centralizing aircraft and passenger handling activities into a subsidiary, selling non-core related practices such as its Duty Free operations. Its biggest move came with a sale, announced Dec. 30, of the company's administrative building to Prague Airport for 607 Kč million, a move aided by Miroslav Dvořák, who is both chairman of the board at ČSA and CEO of Prague Airport. The airline will now lease the space from the airport, while putting the cash toward other areas. "These steps will give Czech Airlines the capital needed to significantly strengthen the company," Hejsková said. "The proceeds of the sale will be put completely toward further stabilization measures."

Petr Kováč, chairman of the board at Patria Corporate Finance, agrees that ČSA has a long way to go, but recent strategies he's observed from the company promise a better long-term forecast. "2010 will be full of hard work for ČSA on the improvement of its core business," he said. "I expect there will be decisions regarding disposal of selected ČSA assets." Part of that will depend on ČSA's cooperation with Prague Airport, which last month purchased ČSA's headquarters building, otherwise known as APC. The sale of the building, which contains crew and administration facilities, was seen as a positive step that will inject much-needed funds.


ODS wants to punish deputies for high budget deficit

The Czech Civic Democrats (ODS) want to propose that in the future ministers and deputies should be punished financially for supporting high budget deficits. On Wednesday, ODS chairman Mirek Topolánek said it was necessary to use all means to prevent the huge state budget deficit from further increasing. The party has recently opened one of its main trump cards which it believes will help it win the May parliamentary elections.

Immediately after the elections the Civic Democrats want to push through the Chamber of Deputies a new constitutional law which would stipulate the lowering of salaries of all ministers and deputies who would vote for a too high state budget deficit. The party believes this would help curb the growing debt of public finances. "If deputies and ministers were faced with clear sanctions for unnecessary squandering public finances they would think twice before coming up with their populist proposals that would increase the budget deficit," ODS financial expert Martin Kocourek, one of the main authors of the plan, said. The ODS leadership approved the plan on Tuesday.

If the constitutional law drafted by the ODS was valid now already all deputies and ministers who voted for last year's budget that ended with a 192-billion-crown deficit would lose a quarter of their monthly salaries. This means that a rank-and-file deputy would monthly lose 15,300 crowns, heads of Chamber's committees 21,500 crowns while Chamber deputy chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova (ODS), for instance, would have to return up to 41,000 crowns. Though the ODS has not yet made concrete calculations it is clear that under its proposal deputies and ministers could lose up to a quarter of their salaries. If they failed to prevent a provisional budget they would lose 30 percent of their salaries. On the other hand, deputies and ministers would be entitled to bonuses of up to 25 percent of their salaries for good financial management.

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