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Breakfast Brief – Tuesday 3 February 2009

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LN: Obama unlikely to visit Prague

Lidové noviny quote unnamed diplomatic sources claiming US President Barack Obama is unlikely to visit Prague. US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton is expected instead sometime between March and May. The EU-US summit, originally planned for Prague in April, will probably take place in Strasbourg.

LN 1, 7

Coalition calls for Lisbon ratification

The coalition parties want to ratify the Lisbon Treaty by the end of February, PM Mirek Topolánek and Deputy PM for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said yesterday. The lower house plans to discuss the treaty today.


Kurd suing Czech state for wrongful imprisonment

Kurdish doctor Yektu Uzunoglu has filed a lawsuit against the Czech state demanding CZK 50 billion in damages on grounds that he was wrongfully accused of serious crime and imprisoned for 2.5 years in the 1990s. Czech prosecutors had accused Uzunoglu of torture and plotting a murder, but it later came out the accusations were faked. Uzunoglu has declined an offer by Deputy Justice Minister František Korbel to use the legal services of his law firm.

HN 1, 3

PM calls opposition healthcare measures ‘Bolshevik’

PM Mirek Topolánek said yesterday that Social Democratic regional governors had mismanaged public funds and introduced “Bolshevik” measures by abolishing medical fees in regional hospitals.

Právo 5

Poll: More Czechs trust Topolánek

According to a January CVVM poll, 29% of Czechs consider Topolánek a trustworthy politician, a 10-percentage-point increase from December.

Právo 4, ČTK

Minister promises human rights talks at EU-China summit

Michael Kocáb, the minister for human rights and minorities, wants to hold a discussion on human rights in China at the upcoming EU-China summit in Prague.


ČSSD introduces anti-crisis measures

The opposition Social Democrats have introduced their own proposals for dealing with the economic crisis in a new brochure and a website launched yesterday. The measures include increasing unemployment benefits, paying 13th-month pension, raising taxes on annual incomes over CZK 1.2 million, and giving individuals bigger tax deductions.

Právo 4, ČTK

Mandatory alcohol test considered for bus drivers

Bus drivers and drivers of lorries transporting dangerous materials may have to take an alcohol test before each ride, under an amendment proposed by a group of ODS deputies and traffic experts. Drivers would not be permitted to start their vehicles without first proving a negative breathalyzer result. The amendment would also raise the speed limit to 160 km/h on selected motorway sections.

MfD A1, A4, ČTK

Tesco building in Liberec to be demolished

A 1970s department store in Liberec will be demolished at the beginning of March and its owner, Tesco Stores, will build a new CZK 2 billion shopping centre in its place, over the protests of architectural experts, HN reports. The building was designed by Czech architects Karel Hubáček, designer of the Ještěd Tower, and Miroslav Masák, who designed the Máj department store on Prague’s Národní třída.

HN 5


Banks now expect Czech economy to contract

Komerční banka and Raiffeisenbank are expecting Czech GDP to shrink this year by 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively. Only Česká spořitelna is still expecting the Czech economy to grow, by 1%. Pavel Mertlík from Raiffeisenbank said the Czech economy was in its worst state since 1993 and blamed falling demand in western Europe. Meantime, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said yesterday he would not rule out the possibility of zero growth this year.

E15 1, 6

Prices of Prague flats falling; developers losing money

Prices of flats in Prague fell by 1.7% in the last quarter of 2008 compared to the previous quarter, in the first quarterly drop since 2005, the Czech Statistical Office said yesterday. Meantime, property developer Orco announced expected revenue for 2008 of EUR 299 million, some EUR 40 million less than predicted by analysts cited by Bloomberg.

most Czech press

Prices for used and new cars falling

Prices for used cars fell 30% last year and have continued to fall in January. Carmakers have reacted by cutting prices for new vehicles. Hyundai is now selling its i30 model for CZK 279,900, down from CZK 334,900 a year ago. Škoda Auto said it revised prices in November and is awaiting the market’s response. Ford cut prices on 1 January.

most Czech press

State budget shows CZK 500m surplus in January

The state budget showed a surplus of CZK 500 million in January, down from last year’s surplus in January of CZK 9.7 billion, the Finance Ministry reported yesterday. Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman said yesterday he expects the budget deficit to reach between CZK 70 billion and CZK 90 billion this year.

E15 2, LN 13, ČTK

Chamber of Commerce predicting recession this year

The Czech economy will fall into recession this year, the Chamber of Commerce said yesterday, citing sinking demand, production shutdowns, a record low level of output in January and shortened working weeks at factories. The president of the chamber, Petr Kužel, said he agreed with a survey by Raiffeisenbank last week predicting the economy would contract by 1.2%.

Telecommunications office cuts mobile tariffs for operators

The Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) has reduced the fee the phone companies charge mobile operators for phone calls to their networks by CZK 0.34 to CZK 2.65. The move should mean lower costs for mobile phone users. U:fon has reduced its mobile call prices by CZK 0.40 in reaction to the move.

HN 15, LN 15

Jobless rate falls to 4.4% in Q4 2008

The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic fell by half a percentage point in the last quarter of 2008 to 4.4%. Seasonally adjusted, the number of unemployed workers rose in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter, the first such increase since 2005, the Czech Statistical Office said.

LN 13, 14, Právo 18

Czech crown weakens against dollar, euro

The Czech crown weakened substantially against the dollar yesterday, trading at USD/CZK 22.15/USD, its lowest since October 2006. The crown also weakened against the euro to EUR/28.22, Patria Online reported.


Bankrupt glassmaker raises unemployment in region

The Havlíčkův Brod labour office yesterday registered some 200 laid-off employees from the bankrupt glassmaker Sklo Bohemia in Světlá nad Sázavou. Another 200 workers are expected to visit the office today, bringing the unemployment rate in the area to 20%.


PPF receives permission for Eldorado takeover

The Czech financial group PPF was granted permission by Russia’s antimonopoly office FAS to take a majority stake in the Russian retail chain Eldorado.

Prague DVD rentals threatened by cheap DVDs, CDs

More than 219 million cheap DVDs and CDs were given out last year by the leading newspaper distributor PNS as a supplement to newspapers and magazines. This was three times more than in 2007. In reaction, Planet DVD, the largest DVD rental service in Prague, shut down two of its shops and plans to close down the last one in a couple of weeks.

HN 1, 4, ČTK

Metals industry hit by economic crisis

E15 reports the metalworking industry has been hit hard by the economic crisis, with a 50% drop in production and some 800 jobs lost already. The largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal Ostrava, will announce staff cuts in February.

E15 1, 8

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