Topolánek: Obama visit set for 5 April
PM Mirek Topolánek told reporters in Brussels Sunday that US President Barack Obama will come to Prague to meet with representatives of the 27 EU countries on 5 April. Deputy PM Alexandr Vondra said the meeting is expected to deal with energy security, climate change and Afghanistan. Czech police will begin talks this week with US officials on Obama’s security, which will be handled separately from that of other summit participants.
most Czech press
Chamber chief: Too many women in medicine
Milan Kubek, president of the Czech Medical Chamber, said feminisation is one of the problems facing the country’s health service, along with lower medical school graduation rates, ageing hospital staff and doctors leaving for work abroad. “Dedication to the job with women can never be comparable to the dedication men have,” he said.
HN 2, MfD A1, A3
Football fan jailed for Brno violence
A Baník Ostrava fan was sentenced Friday to four months in prison for rioting at a match in Brno 22 February. Three other offenders were banned from future matches until they complete hundreds of hours of community service, and a Polish national who took part in the disturbance was deported. The lower house will discuss violence at football matches Tuesday. ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek presented legislation Friday to return responsibility for security at matches to the police.
LN 1, 5 Sat, Právo 1, 4 Sat
More charges in defence corruption probe
Another 18 people have been charged in the widening probe into corruption at the Defence Ministry. A total of 51 people, about a third of them former ministry staffers, now face prosecution in the investigation into alleged manipulation of public tenders worth CZK 300 million.
MfD A2 Sat, Právo 8 Sat
ČT denies Kocumová firing
Czech Television denied press reports that skier Zuzana Kocumová was fired as a commentator at the FIS Nordic Ski Championships in Liberec for refusing to apply the Czech -ová suffix to female competitors’ names. In a statement the network said Kocumová confused a reprimand over the -ová issue and a routine shift in the commentators’ schedule. Kocumová disputed ČT’s explanation.
LN 1, 3 Sat
Pandurs for Czech army to cost CZK 14.4bn
The final proposed contract between the Defence Ministry and Austrian company Steyr reckons on the Czech army purchasing 107 Pandur II armoured personnel carriers worth CZK 14.4 billion, E15 reports, quoting anonymous sources. The cabinet is expected to deal with the contract today.
E15 1, 4
Kocáb firm on Lety pig farm removal
Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb reiterated his support for removing a pig farm from the site of a former Roma concentration camp in Lety but said it is a long-term issue. He was responding to south Bohemia Roma organisations’ proposal that the state preserve the farm to maintain jobs and instead build a memorial to camp victims in a nearby meadow. Kocáb agreed on leaving the farm be during the economic crisis but said it should be removed in the future.
LN 4 Sat
Conference to mark 10 years of ČR in NATO
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be among the guests of a Prague conference in mid-March marking 10 years since the Czech Republic joined NATO.
Police double vehicle seizures in 2008
Last year Czech police seized 1,440 motor vehicles whose drivers failed to pay a fine or bail, up from 677 in 2007. Most of the seizures were of lorries registered abroad.
Activists defenestrate Klaus dummy at Castle
About 10 activists threw a rubber figure of President Václav Klaus off a balcony near Prague Castle Saturday. Organisers said they staged the symbolic defenestration to support the introduction of direct voting for the Czech presidency.
Aid pledged for CEE; Hungary wants more
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank have pledged up to EUR 24.5 billion in aid to ailing banks in central and eastern Europe. Hungary has asked the EU to provide another EUR 190 billion to help CEE countries. Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek opposes a uniform regional approach to the crisis.
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Bursík: Ban free shopping bags
Environment Minister Martin Bursík will submit a bill to ban retailers from giving shoppers plastic bags for free. He says up to 3 billion bags are given away every year, accounting for 9,000 tonnes of waste. Bursík will also propose to fellow EU environment ministers today that member states tax products made of recycled materials at a lower VAT rate than standard goods.
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Kalousek wants to issue bonds, tax meal vouchers
The Finance Ministry is planning to issue government bonds worth up to CZK 100 billion with interest up to 4% that would be available to ordinary citizens. The state last issued bonds in 1997 to raise money to repair flood damage. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has also prepared a bill to tax meal vouchers and employee transport passes. A similar proposal was introduced earlier this year but withdrawn in the face of a threatened strike by transport unions.
HN 1, 15, 18, 22
Gas bills to decline from April
Three of the country’s largest gas distributors have announced cuts in household natural gas prices to take effect next month. Market leader RWE will reduce rates by 3% on average, E.ON by 2% and Pražská teplárenská by 3.5%.
most Czech press
Insurance sale boosts ČS profits
Česká spořitelna last year netted a record CZK 15.81 billion, 30.2% more than in 2007. The result includes a net CZK 4.26 billion income from the sale of insurance unit Pojišťovna ČS.
Právo 5 Sat, HN 17, ČTK
Study: Illicit cigs cost state billions
The Czech Republic lost up to CZK 4 billion last year due to counterfeit or smuggled cigarettes, up from CZK 1 billion in 2006, according to a study by AC Nielsen. Illicit tobacco products have become commonly available in stores and restaurants.
HN 4, Právo 4
Guest worker numbers down, reversing trend
The number of foreigners working legally in the Czech Republic dropped in January after rising every month last year. The Labour Ministry reported 272,355 guest workers at the end of January, a decline of almost 12,200.
Copa Centrum start delayed
Construction of Copa Centrum in Prague’s New Town, which was set to begin around this time, could be delayed for up to a year. Prague City Hall is to re-examine the building permit for the project on Národní třída following objections from neighbouring tenants.
LN 6 Sat
Czech agriculture profits slump 30%
The farming sector last year netted CZK 9.7 billion, about 30% less than the record earnings posted in 2007, the Czech Statistical Office reported.
Top logger in administration
CE Wood, the biggest Czech logging and timber processing group, has requested a three-month protection from creditors. The Regional Court in Brno appointed an administrator for the firm, which has been insolvent since January.