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Breakfast Brief – 5 November 2009

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Table of Contents

ODS, ČSSD leaders fail to agree on EU commissioner
ODS leader Mirek Topolánek and his ČSSD counterpart Jiří Paroubek failed to agree yesterday on who will be the next Czech European commissioner during a meeting with PM Jan Fischer, Topolánek told journalists, adding that the talks would continue. Fischer said the cabinet must decide on a name by the beginning of next week. In an interview with Hospodářské noviny, Fischer said Czechs could hold the post of commissioner for science and research or for the environment, but that the country’s chances of acquiring a more influential post, such as commissioner for energy, were very low.
Source: HN 1, 5, LN 4

MfD: Prague transit employees plan labour strike on Tuesday
Mladá fronta Dnes reports that Prague Public Transit Company staff are likely to call a strike next Tuesday to protest budget cuts from Prague City Council.
Source: MfD A1, C1, C2

Hájek: Klaus may want ČR to leave EU
Petr Hájek of the president’s office said that one of President Václav Klaus’s goals for the Czech Republic could be for the country to leave the European Union once the Lisbon Treaty takes effect in order to regain its sovereignty. He made the comment in an interview for Prima Television yesterday.
Source: most Czech press

McAfee: ČR among ‘top 10’ for hackers
A study by the anti-virus company McAfee has concluded that the Czech Republic ranks among the world’s top 10 countries for computer hackers and that the country is the base of nearly 1% of all computer attacks. The survey showed that 2% of the world’s websites that contain dangerous programs trace back to the Czech Republic.
Source: Aktuálně.cz, HN 20

MPs approve 4% wage cut, tax on allowances
The lower house yesterday approved a 4% pay cut for senior state officials, including MPs, judges and public prosecutors. Their incomes and benefits now will also be subject to tax.
Source: most Czech press

MfD: Right-wing extremists plotted terrorist attacks
Mladá fronta Dnes reports that far-right extremists had planned a series of attacks against power plants, police officers, and Jews in high positions. The report, based on information from the website of the far-right group White Justice, cites founding member Lukáš Sedláček, now in custody, as saying members communicate anonymously online via coded servers, one in the US and another in Israel.
Source: MfD A1-A3

New law would ease motorway construction
The lower house yesterday passed a law saying that complaints and court appeals regarding private land disputes will no longer be sufficient to halt motorway construction. Road-building can only be halted by a lawful court decision. The law should make it easier to build new motorways.
Source: E15 4, Právo 3

Vítkov arson suspect sentenced in rock concert attack
The Bruntál District Court has sentenced David Vaculík, suspected in taking part of an arson attack on a Roma family in Vítkov last April, to six months probation for assaulting participants at a heavy metal rock concert.
Source: most Czech press

Klaus signs agreements on passenger-data transfer
President Václav Klaus has signed agreements with the US and Australia under which airlines from European Union countries are obliged to hand over data on passengers to US and Australian authorities.
Source: ČTK

Number of private schools on the rise
The number of private institutions of higher learning in the Czech Republic has risen by 47 since private schools became legal in 1999. This is double the number of new state schools. In the past two years, the pace has picked up to an average of one school opening every four months. The secretary of the association of private higher-education institutions, Milan Kratochvíl, said only large schools with more than 500 students can be profitable.
Source: HN 5

Ministry: Higher tolls instead of lorry ban
Transport Ministry spokesman Karel Hanzelka said yesterday that Minister Gustáv Slamečka agrees with road hauliers that it is preferable to raise motorway tolls for lorries on Fridays than impose a Friday ban. He said tolls on Fridays from 3pm to 9pm could rise by as much as 50%. The change must still be approved by the government.
Source:, Právo 17

Deficit could reach CZK 170bn this year
The Finance Ministry asked the lower house yesterday to raise the deficit ceiling an additional CZK 14 billion due to lower-than-expected income from taxes and social-security payments. If approved, the deficit would reach CZK 170 billion by the end of the year, as opposed to a budgeted deficit of CZK 38.1 billion.
Source: LN 1, 4

ČR earns CZK 16.8bn so far on carbon credits
The Czech Republic so far has sold emission allowances worth CZK 16.8 billion to foreign entities, Aktuálně.cz reported, citing Environment Ministry spokesman Jakub Kašpar. Proceeds go to a government energy-savings programme.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

MERO offers to buy refinery share
MERO, the Czech owner and operator of the Druzhba and IKL oil pipelines, has offered Shell USD 125 million for a 16% stake in Česká rafinérská. Russia’s Lukoil and Unipetrol, owned by Poland’s PKN Orlen, are also reportedly interested. Unipetrol currently holds 51% of Česká rafinérská and has an option to buy the shares, but PKN Orlen head Jacek Krawiec said the situation is not ideal at the moment for further acquisitions.
Source: HN 20

Unemployment rises to 7.4% in Q3
The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic increased to 7.4% in the third quarter of the year, the Czech Statistical Office said yesterday. This was 3.1 percentage points higher than the same period last year and the biggest year-on-year rise since monitoring began in 1993.
Source: Právo 16

Power prices to drop next year
The price of electricity for domestic customers is expected to fall next year, Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ) chairman Josef Fiřt said yesterday, adding the ERÚ would announce a percentage rate decrease at the end of November.
Source: most Czech press

KB posts 8.5bn profit through September
Komerční banka posted a CZK 8.5 billion profit for the first nine months of the year, a drop of just CZK 1.4 billion from last year. The result was good given market conditions, HN reports. The bank’s provision for loan losses amounted to CZK 4.2 billion, more than double last year.
Source: most Czech press

Passenger car sales rise 8% through October
Sales of new passenger cars rose 8% to 131,869 units in the period from January to October compared to a year ago, the Car Importers Association said yesterday. Overall new vehicle sales, including light utility vehicles, fell 14% to 148,768 units.
Source: Právo 17

MPs turn down VAT cut for some services
The lower house yesterday rejected a government proposal to shift some services, including restaurants, hairdressers and repair shops, into a lower VAT rate category. The move was aimed at saving jobs.
Source: HN 4, LN 15, Právo 4

Breweries want to rename beer ‘malt wine’ to avoid tax
Jiří Fusek, the head of the Czech Association of Small Independent Breweries, has proposed calling beer “malt wine” as of January in order to avoid paying a higher excise duty. Fusek said the planned one-third increase in excise tax as of January would mean the end of traditional Czech beer production.
Source: ČTK

Škoda plans to build low-cost family car
Škoda Auto plans to manufacture a family car that would cost from EUR 10,000 to EUR 12,000, CEO Reinhard Jung said yesterday at a Berlin conference organised by the magazine Automobilwoche. The new model will be launched in two to three years, Jung said.
Source:, HN 1, 5

HN: ČSA chair runs for head of Prague zoo
According to Hospodářské noviny, the chairman of the supervisory board of Czech Airlines and member of the National Economic Council, Miroslav Zámečník, is one of the candidates to replace Petr Fejk as director of the Prague zoo. The Prague City Council stopped taking applications for the post yesterday.
Source: HN 1, 6

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