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Council of Europe criticises ČR over castrations
Yesterday’s report by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture calls on the Czech Republic to abandon castration of sexual offenders. Committee experts who visited several Czech mental institutions and prisons called the castrations inhumane and humiliating.
most Czech press
MPs OK ban on wire tap disclosure
Despite objections raised by the Senate and the media, the lower house on Thursday again approved an amended penal code that includes a ban on publicising recordings from police wire taps Violators would face up to five years in prison or a CZK 5 million fine. The amendment must be signed by the president to take effect.
most Czech press
Czech EU presidency blasts Russia base plan
The Czech Republic, acting as EU president, yesterday released a statement criticising Russian plans to construct bases in the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying the bases would violate Georgia’s territorial integrity and contradict the current ceasefire between the two countries. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso yesterday travelled to Russia to renew talks. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will go to Russia next week.
Brno and Ostrava might abolish medical fees
Brno and Ostrava city halls, both controlled by ČSSD, are considering cancellation of medical fees. In Ostrava, Communists and Christian Democrats are also in favour of abolishing the fees in pharmacies and the ones for seniors and children. Brno has ordered an analysis of the costs of such a move.
New health minister against restaurant smoking ban
Like her predecessor, Tomáš Julínek, new Health Minister Daniela Filipiová will not pursue a ban on smoking in Czech bars and restaurants. She favours allowing each establishment to decide whether to let patrons smoke. Both Julínek and Filipiová are smokers.
Nečas opposes 2002 EU family policy
Speaking yesterday to a meeting of EU family affairs ministers, Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Nečas said the 2002 Barcelona Objectives, which aim to unify family policy across the union, should not be imposed on member states which acceded after the plan was adopted. The Barcelona goals include nurseries for at least one-third of children under 3 and kindergartens for 90% of children aged 3-6. Nečas said many Czechs have had negative experiences with nursery schools.
HN 4, LN 2
T-Mobile to start releasing music
Mobile operator T-Mobile will release a new album, Karton veverek by the Czech rock band Wohnout, on its website t-music.cz on 1 March. Only one month after that the album will be also sold in shops.
HN 15, 18, E15 12
Study: Poorer seniors paying higher rents
More than a third of the 40,000 to 50,000 senior citizens who live in market-rent flats are among those with the lowest incomes, while high-income seniors are less likely to be paying market rents, according to a Czech Statistical Office study on the life of the country’s over-60 population.
Poll: ČSSD losing voters
After topping the ruling Civic Democrats (ODS) by more than a dozen points in November and December surveys, the opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD) led by only 4% in last month’s Median poll, 35.3% to 31.3%. Political scientists Tomáš Lebeda and Vladimíra Dvořáková said persistent negative campaigning is hurting ČSSD, while ODS is benefiting from the Czech EU presidency.
Právo 1, 2, ČTK
Pezold loses dispute over Hradčany palaces
Alžběta Pezold, the heir of the Hluboká line of the Schwarzenberg family, has lost another dispute over restitution of the family property. The City Court in Prague definitively rejected her claims concerning the Schwarzenberg and Salmov palaces and surrounding land in Prague’s Hradčany, confirming a previous decision by the Prague 1 District Court.
ČNB cuts rate, expects economy to shrink
The Czech National Bank Board of Governors lowered interest rates by half a point to 1.75% on Thursday. The rate is the lowest since October 2005. Analysts expect further cuts this year. In its latest forecast the central bank predicts Czech GDP will shrink by 0.3% in 2009. In November ČNB had forecast 2.9% growth. Bank Governor Zdeněk Tůma said the economy should grow by 0.9% in 2010.
most Czech press
Sarkozy: Produce French cars in France, not ČR
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants French car makers to transfer production back to France. He said it is is inexcusable to sell French cars made in the Czech Republic in France, and noted that the French state is offering financial help to troubled domestic automakers. French company PSA Peugeot Citroën is manufacturing cars at the TPCA plant in Kolín.
HN 20, MfD A6, ČTK
Trade surplus down 21% in 2008
The Czech Republic posted a CZK 69.4 billion trade surplus last year, down CZK 18.5 billion from 2007, the Czech Statistical Office reported. The year ended with a CZK 11.8 billion trade deficit in December.
HN 17, LN 14
Škoda extends Fabia production to five days a week
Škoda Auto will extend production of its Fabia model to five days a week from late February thanks to increased demand on the German market. However, trade union officials said production of other models will likely continue to decrease.
most Czech press
Car sales fall 12% in January
Sales of new passenger cars dropped by 12.3% year-on-year to 8,842 units in January. Sales of light utility vehicles fell 37% to 3,634. The Car Importers Association attributed the drop to declining demand from corporate customers, who are waiting for VAT deductions that could be introduced in the spring.
HN 1, 16, ČTK
Government opens ČSA tender
The Finance Ministry on Thursday declared a two-round tender for the state’s 91.51% stake in Czech Airlines. Bids are to be submitted by 23 March and the new owner should be known by 30 September. Russia’s Aeroflot was the first company to confirm its interest, doing so a few hours after the tender was declared.
Central bank begins issuing crown forecast
The Czech National Bank yesterday began publishing its predictions for the strength of the crown, forecasting an average exchange with the euro of CZK 25.80 this year and CZK 25.60 in 2010. ČNB is the world’s only central bank releasing forecasts on its national currency.
Giant ski park to be built in Špindlerův Mlýn
Krkonoše National Park has approved 31 projects for construction of new ski slopes and lifts, including a CZK 500 million plan to connect the Špindlerův Mlýn resort’s Svatý Petr and Medvědín areas into a single facility with 25 km of slopes and parking for 500 cars, resort director Jiří Beran said.
HN 1, 3
AZA to build Russian-backed centre near airport
AZA Trade, backed by Russian capital, plans to begin construction this year of the 21-hectare, EUR 300 million Prague Airport Park. The commercial centre near the airport will include 30 buildings with offices, logistical centres and a hotel. Construction is set to start in the third quarter.
E15 1, 10
Bendl against year-round Friday lorry ban
New Transport Minister Petr Bendl opposes banning lorries exceeding 7.5 tonnes from Czech roads on Fridays year-round, saying it would place another barrier in businesses’ way. Bendl said Thursday that he “does not know anything” about his predecessor Aleš Řebíček’s proposal for toll bulk discount.
MfD A8, ČTK
Zentiva likely to leave PSE by end of 2009
Analysts quoted by Hospodářské noviny say pharmaceutical company Zentiva is likely to leave the Prague bourse by the end of the year if it is taken over by France’s Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi-Aventis needs an additional 20% of Zentiva shares to make the move. Its offer to buy out the shares is valid until 20 February.
FinMin: CZK 70bn available to balance budget
Deputy Finance Minister Eduard Janota said Thursday that the ministry has a reserve fund of about CZK 70 billion to finance the 2009 state budget deficit. A lower than expected budget gap last year allowed the state to save some of the money it raised in bond issues.