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Breakfast Brief – 6 November 2009

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Table of Contents

Health Ministry confirms another 43 swine flu cases
The Health Ministry has so far confirmed 394 cases of swine flu in the Czech Republic. The number is rising by dozens weekly. According to the co-creator of pandemic plans for hospitals, Václav Chmelík, the Czech Republic is facing the first wave of the flu pandemic.
Source: LN 1, ČTK

EU commissioner to be selected by Monday
Prime Minister Jan Fischer gave political leaders until Sunday to elect a Czech EU commissioner. If the ODS and ČSSD chairmen, Mirek Topolánek and Jiří Paroubek, respectively, fail to agree by then, Fischer will present candidates’ names to the cabinet on Monday.
Source: ČTK, LN 3

Poll: Czechs lean towards social democracy
According to a survey by CVVM, 23% of Czechs side with a social-democratic political model, 19% with a liberal view and 14% with a conservative view.
Source: ČTK

Defence Ministry wants to dismiss far-right army member
Defence Minister Martin Barták said that the soldier and co-founder of the far-right organization White Justice Lukáš Sedláček will be dismissed from the army after Mladá fronta Dnes reported yesterday that the extremist group has plotted terrorist attacks.
Source: ČTK

Police failing to handle economic crime
The proportion of economic crime cases solved by police decreased to 43% in January-September, the lowest in five years, from 69% three years ago, the latest police statistics showed. The reasons behind the decline include the Czech Republic’s five-year-old EU accession and its entry into the duty-free Schengen area, which makes VAT fraud easier, the 2007 massive dismissals of police staff, and increased internet crime, which is hard to reveal.
Source: HN 1-3

Tap water in Prague is quality; Mattoni concerned about sales
The Prague Water Supply and Sewage Company cited an analysis by VHL Plzeň yesterday that showed that tap water in Prague is suitable. By contrast, the biggest bottler in the country, Karlovarské minerální vody, is criticising the current campaign to promote tap water and has started asking restaurants that serve their guests from the faucet why they do so.
Source: HN 4, Právo 5

Klaus meets with Biden
During his three-day visit to the US, President Václav Klaus met with US Vice-President Joe Biden yesterday. Issues discussed included military co-operation and the Czech Republic’s involvement in the new missile defence system. Klaus also gave a talk to students of Georgetown University, warning about “isms” and drawing parallels between communism and the fight against global climate change, state intervention to fix the financial crisis, and the “forced unification of Europe”.
Source: HN 7

Právo: Far-rightists targeted PM’s family
According to Právo, bodyguards were appointed for Prime Minister Jan Fischer’s son in June due to threats by the extreme-right group White Justice. For the same reason, bodyguards began protecting Interior Minister Martin Pecina’s children around then, too. Pecina said yesterday that the danger was real.
Source: Právo 1

EU survey: Czechs among top marihuana and ecstasy users
According to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Czechs younger than 24 consume the most marihuana in Europe. While 30.5% of Europeans under 24 years old have ever tried marihuana, 44% of that group have consumed the soft drug in the Czech Republic. Nearly 6% of Europeans younger than 34 years old have tried ecstasy; in the Czech Republic, 15% have. Though drug crime in the EU increased by 29% between 2002 and 2007, it has decreased in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, and Slovenia.
Source: ČTK, Právo 7

Constitutional Court dismisses complaint by heparin murderer
Yesterday, the Constitutional Court dismissed the complaint by the former paramedic Petr Zelenka, who received a life sentence for killing seven patients by administering them heparin at a hospital in Havlíčkův Brod, the court spokesman Tomáš Langášek said. According to the complaint, the court compromised Zelenka’s right to a just legal process and ignored the presumption of innocence.
Source: ČTK

MP faces losing law degree
Marek Benda, the head of the Chamber of Deputies’ Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, might be the first to lose his doctorate of law, which he received from the University of West Bohemia. The university’s dean, Josef Průša, and the Law Faculty head, Jiří Pospíšl, will file a proposal to strip Benda off his title because his dissertation was too short and did not meet the requirements.
Source: most Czech press

Regional councils face debts
According to the Finance Ministry, the debts of regional councils added up to CZK 16.3 billion in the first half of the year. E15 reports that in the autumn of 2008, regional offices had CZK 17 billion at their disposal. Regional officials representatives said that the debts are due to the financial crisis and the fact that many hundreds of millions of crowns less have been collected in taxes.
Source: E15 1, 4

ČNB expects GDP to grow by 1.4% in 2010
GDP will increase by 1.4% next year and drop by 4.4% this year, central bank governor Zdeněk Tůma said yesterday. According to the Czech Statistical Office, the economy grew by 2.6% last year.
Source: most Czech press

Chamber of Deputies proposes changing ČTK supervisory body
The lower house’s media committee yesterday proposed to remove the Czech News Agency council, a supervisory body elected by parliament. According to deputies, ČTK breached the law during its election of CEO Radim Hreha by failing to provide balanced reporting.
Source: ČTK

Imports of used cars down by 78,000 year-on-year
Used car imports dropped by 78,000 to 123,000 in the first ten months of 2009 as consumers’ willingness to spend money disappeared with the economic crisis. According to the Car Importers Association, the biggest drop, by more than half, to 25,000, concerned used cars older than 10 years, due to their high registration fees of as many as CZK 10,000.
Source: HN 20

Rental housing getting cheaper than mortgage
Market rents in all flats in big towns have become significantly lower than potential mortgage instalments. The demand for rental housing has increased by as much as 20% over the last year, with real estate agencies expecting the growth to continue next year, Hospodářské noviny reported.
Source: HN 17

Senate dismisses privatisation of Prague Airport
The Senate turned down the cabinet’s wish to ban the privatisation of Prague Airport yesterday. The ODS and TOP 09 senators backed the Senate’s decision.
Source: ČTK, Právo 3

ČD prepares tender for taxi services at railway stations
As Prague Airport is, České dráhy is creating a tender for taxi companies to provide services at railway stations. The service, called ČD Shuttle, will first be implemented in Prague, Brno and Ostrava.
Source: ČTK

T-Mobile’s revenue down, gross profit up
The largest domestic operator, T-Mobile, reported a drop in sales by 3.7% to CZK 23.9 billion in the first nine months of 2009 and a rise in the number of customers by 1.2% to 5.46 billion. T-Mobile’s gross profit increased by 3.2% to CZK 12.6 billion, mainly due to the settlement of a conflict with Telefónica O2 about connecting fees. That generated CZK 950 million for T-Mobile.
Source: most Czech press

Média insurer gains 47,000 clients in deceptive campaign
The health insurance company Média has launched a controversial campaign in recent months, attracting a hefty 47,000 new clients. The insurer admitted that its external dealers used unethical practices, such as lies and fraud, during the ad campaign and decided to terminate contracts with all of them. Média has to gain a further 53,000 clients in two years in order to retain its license.
Source: HN 4

Estimates: Prices dropped in October by 0.1% year-on-year
Analysts estimate that for the first time since August 2003, consumer prices will have fallen by 0.1% in October due to cheaper vacations and a drop in the price of fuels and household natural gas. According to the experts, the prices should rise again starting in November. The estimate could be confirmed when the Czech Statistical Office releases its inflation data on Monday.
Source: ČTK

First hydrogen fuelling station opens in ČR
The country’s first hydrogen station, headed by the Nuclear Research Institute and Linde Gas, opened yesterday in Neratovice, after three years of preparations. Three-quarters of the CZK 83 million needed for construction came from the state and from the EU. For now, the station will supply special local busses.
Source: ČTK

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