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Gov’t to discuss pollution, unemployment in Ostrava

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Ostrava, North Moravia, July 20 (CTK) – The Czech government will deal with unemployment, the quality of air and transport infrastructure at its meeting to be held in Ostrava, the capital of Moravia-Silesia, on Wednesday, regional governor Miroslav Novak (Social Democrats, CSSD) has told CTK.
The coalition cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka, comprising his CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL,) plans three meetings in regions this year. The first one will take place in Moravia-Silesia that faces many problems.
It has the second highest unemployment in the country after the Usti Region, north Bohemia, amounting to 8.6 percent (73,265 jobless), while the national average is 6.2 percent.
Vitkovice Steel will shut down its steelwork in Ostrava as from September 30. Almost 200 of its 300 employees are to lose jobs, according to the data of the regional tripartite.
Several hundred people have left the OKD mining company this year and others are yet to leave, though the company claims that mostly for natural reasons, such as retirement or finding another job.
The air in the Moravia-Silesia Region has been the worst in the Czech Republic for years.
The limits for dust particles are many times exceeded in winter. The major pollutants are industrial plants, traffic as well as poor-quality heating in households.
A programme of subsidies for the replacement of old boilers with more environmentally-friendly ones has been launched in Moravia-Silesia. So far the subsidies of 280 million crowns have been paid out.
Novak told CTK that the main problem in the region is unemployment, which has triggered support for a new industrial zone and for the creation of new jobs in general.
“Transport infrastructure is naturally closely connected with employment, so it will be one of the topics to be discussed as well,” he said.
The government will probably also discuss the quality of air and possible environment-protection measures.
“I expect a fundamental decision to be made in the form of a government resolution about the funding of some investments to boost employment in Moravia-Silesia,” Novak said.
The CSSD government of Milos Zeman (1998-2002) met in the region in 1999 as well as in 2002 (without Zeman who was abroad). The following cabinet of Vladimir Spidla (CSSD; 2002-2004) met there in 2003.
($1=24.843 crowns

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