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Breakfast Brief – 5 August 2009

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Table of Contents

People can comment on ODS policy
The Civic Democrats are offering citizens an opportunity to give their opinions in 12 areas that the party regards as fundamental before the October general election. Deputy Chairman Ivan Langer said on Tuesday that the questionnaire on the party’s website should serve as inspiration and background as the ODS plans its platform.
Source: MfD A2, Právo 2

ODS presents Dalík’s contract for Tuscany villa
Markus M. Hasler, a man who is linked to a number of companies with unknown ownership in Lichtenstein, signed the rental contract for a Tuscan villa with Marek Dalík, an adviser to former PM Mirek Topolánek. The ODS presented the contract yesterday at a press conference. HN reports that Hasler is linked to some companies that have invested in the Czech Republic, including Raben Anstalt, which allegedly owns the villa, the purchase of which was negotiated through a banker from the J&T investment group.
Source: most Czech press

Roma leave Prague, take dead prince’s body to Romania
Dozens of relatives of a Romanian Roma who died in a Prague hospital on Monday, left on Tuesday afternoon, taking the body of the 17-year-old to Romania. The family paid roughly CZK 90,000 for burial services and transport from their own resources and from gifts and did not use the financial aid offered by Prague City Hall.
Source: most Czech press

ABL’s administration of Prague historical buildings begins
The security company ABL FM Services, closely connected to the ABL agency, is administering historical buildings such as the St. Nicholas Church, the Powder Tower, the Petřín observation tower and the Old Town City Hall as of 1 August after winning a tender in which it was the only applicant. The company reportedly has no experience in the sector, and it’s owner Vít Bárta is said to be one of the sponsors of the political party Věci veřejné (Public Matters). The company should pay some CZK 50 million per year to the Prague Information Service and get all profits from tours of the buildings.
Source: LN 1, 2

Nearly CZK 220m spent from regional budgets on patient fees
A Hospodářské noviny survey found that CZK 218.4 million has gone from regional budgets toward fees for patients in regional hospitals and pharmacies since 1 February. About two-thirds of the patients at regional hospitals use the practice. The highest percentage is in Central Bohemia, where 95% of patients use the practice, compared with only 25% of those in the Zlín region. The numbers differ according to how difficult the fee policy is.
Source: HN 1, 5

Pirates to promote direct democracy, copyright law revision
Revising the copyright law, securing rights and freedoms in connection with the internet, transparent public administration, direct democracy and decentralisation of power are the main points that the Czech Pirate Party wants to promote ahead of the October general elections.
Source: ČTK

Foreigners owe Czech hospitals CZK 44.5m
Noncitizens’ debts for medical treatment reached CZK 44.5 million at the end of last year. Hospitals provided healthcare worth CZK 555 million to 79,068 foreign citizens, most of them from Slovakia, Ukraine, Germany and Vietnam.
Source: ČTK

ÚOOÚ: Authority collects patients’ data illegally
The State Institute for Drug Control, which in January started collecting information on medicines that patients use, does so illegally because the diseases that people suffer from can be deduced from the information, the Office for Personal Data Protection has decided.
Source: ČTK, LN 1, 5, MfD A5

Unemployment rises to 6.4%
The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic increased to 6.4% in the second quarter of the year, a rise of 2.2 percentage points against the same period in 2008, the biggest year-on-year growth since 1999, the Czech Statistical Office said yesterday. Josef Středula of the Kovo labour union predicted a second wave of layoffs in the fall, decreased working hours and closures of firms – a prediction supported by other analysts.
Source: most Czech press

State coffer project approved
Yesterday, the Finance Ministry approved a plan for the electronic treasury system, which should be launched in phases and finished by 2012. The project’s costs shouldn’t exceed CZK 2.56 billion and should include licences, development and servicing until 2012. Operational costs could reach CZK 300 million annually, Jan Zikl, the project’s chief said.
Source: HN 13

Upper Austria protests against Temelín tender
Upper Austria is protesting against the tender to extend the Temelín nuclear power station, which the Czech energy company ČEZ opened on Monday. The Upper Austrian regional government claims it has the tools to stop the projects, while Austrian far-right parties are calling for more lawsuits and threatening border blockades, the APA news agency reported. The US company Westinghouse has already declared its interest in the tender.
Source: ČTK, E15 4

Škoda Auto ups sales in Germany
The government car scrap subsidy in Germany provided a significant boost to the Czech manufacturer Škoda Auto, which raised sales in that market by roughly two-thirds year-on-year, to more than 15,000 in July.
Source: ČTK

UniCredit Bank H1 profit drops almost 50%
Net earnings at UniCredit Bank Czech Republic, the fourth biggest Czech bank by assets, decreased by nearly one-half to CZK 1.2 billion in the first half of the year.
Source: ČTK, MfD B1

Česká spořitelna takes 100,000 credit cards out of circulation
The Czech Republic’s leader in the credit card market reduced the number of cards since last year by 15% to 500,000. Česká spořitelna’s spokesman said mainly inactive cards were reduced. Czech banks have issued about 3 million credit cards, of which about one-third are active.
Source: E15 1, 6

Debt collectors to launch website on property up for auction
To prevent corruption and support transparency in auctions, in September the debt collectors’ chamber will launch a new website listing all property seized from debtors to be sold to the highest bidder, the chamber’s president, Jana Tvrdková, said. The chamber is also planning to include information on tangibles such as cars on the website and lower the price for information on debt collections against private persons on the website it launched in March.
Source: HN 1, 16

Railway repairs bring profits to bus operators
Czech Railways will pay an estimated CZK 300 million for substitute bus transport this year in connection with extensive system reconstruction, an increase of CZK 100 million against last year. Moreover, frequent track closures have resulted in declining passenger numbers, Czech Railways spokesman Petr Šťáhlavský said.
Source: E15 6

Cool Travel goes bust
The small agency Cool Travel announced bankruptcy on Tuesday. Fewer than 20 clients had bought holiday package from Cool Travel, and their claims will be dealt with by the insurance company Generali.
Source: ČTK

Prague Airport to launch wireless internet
Prague Airport tested on Tuesday the operation of a wireless computer network for passengers in its two main terminals and plans to launch the service in the days to come. Passengers will be able to use a basic internet connection for free, while a faster connection will be available at an extra charge.
Source: ČTK

Prague Airport to pick new taxi service
The Prague Airport plans a tender for new taxi operators to be chosen still this year. As of 2010, only two companies will provide these services instead of the current three, and the number of taxis at the airport will decrease.

Crisis affecting Prague taxi drivers
The financial crisis has hit taxis, according to an LN report that cites a 30% decline in client numbers on average this year. Currently there are about 5,000 taxi drivers operating in Prague. AAA Radiotaxi, with some 1,200 drivers, reports a 13% decline in customers who order taxis via the firm’s call centre.
Source: LN 13

Poll: Orders in construction keep on falling
The year-on-year decline in orders at construction companies continues, and businesses now expect the sector to fall 11% for 2009, compared with the 3% decline they had predicted three months ago, according to a survey carried out by CEEC Research in co-operation with KPMG and Ipsos Tambor.
Source: ČTK

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