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Breakfast Brief – 7 August 2009

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Table of Contents

Centuries-old Christ carving found at Prague Castle
A unique 600-year-old wooden carving of the crucified Christ that had been considered lost for 20 years was found during reconstruction works at the Church of All Saints at Prague Castle. The statue had stood at the grave of St Ludmila in the Basilica of St George. It will be restored and placed in its original location on 15 September.
Source: most Czech press

Physician in court on fraudulent treatment charges
A urologist accused of falsely diagnosing patients with serious diseases in order to charge them high sums for treatment went on trial on 6 August in Prague 2 District Court. Dr Zbyněk Veselský faces up to three years in prison if convicted.
Source: most Czech press

ODS senator rents office from himself
Senator Luděk Sefzig (ODS) has been putting his monthly Senate office allowance toward space in the house he owns in Rokycany. At a rate of CZK 17,200 a month, Sefzig has collected some CZK 1.5 million since taking office in 2000. Sefzig said the home office suits him because it is in the centre of Rokycany, which is part of his constituency, and is close to his doctor’s surgery. He said he has not sought the maximum allowable subsidy.
Source: HN 1, 4

Cabinet to take up anti-Communist measure
The Interior Ministry is preparing documents for the cabinet to take up last year’s Senate resolution accusing the Communist Party (KSČM) of violating the constitution by failing to renounce violence as a means of achieving its goals, Senator Jaromír Štětina said, citing a letter from PM Jan Fischer. Senators are seeking a Supreme Administrative Court ruling on the issue, which can only be requested by the cabinet or the president.
Source: ČTK

Experts: Faster swine flu spread weeks away
Health officials reported another 27 Czech swine flu cases yesterday, bringing the national total to 162. Experts expect that within a few weeks the number of diagnoses will grow by hundreds daily.
Source: ČTK

Man survives bizarre sawmill accident
Surgeons in Olomouc yesterday saved the life of a sawmill worker whose heart had been pierced by a 1.5-metre splinter spat out by a timber-processing machine.
Source: MfD A5, Právo 7

Greens to team with SOS in elections
Ondřej Liška, head of the Green Party, signed an agreement yesterday with the leader of the Open Society Party (SOS) on cooperation in the forthcoming elections. SOS members will run on the Greens list in the October voting.
Source: LN 4, Právo 2

Satirist withdraws Paroubková photos
A Czech graphic designer who specialises in satiric photo-illustrations of political figures agreed to remove images of Petra Paroubková, wife of ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek, from his website. Designer aTeo said he took down the pictures showing Paroubková scantily clad or as the heroine of the Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films out of regard for her pregnancy but said he would not apologise as she had demanded. Paroubková said she will not file a lawsuit.

Insurance to cover Romani prince’s hospitalisation
Prague’s Vinohrady Hospital will be compensated for treating the 17-year-old Romani prince who died there Monday. The son of Romania’s Romani baron was admitted to the hospital last month after nearly drowning in Stará Boleslav. The Centre for International Reimbursement, the Czech body that deals with European health insurers, said the prince was covered by Romania’s state insurance company. The cost of his treatment is estimated to have exceeded CZK 1 million.
Source: ČTK

Klaus rejects scientists’ funding complaints
President Václav Klaus yesterday dismissed complaints by some leading Czech scientists about budget cuts for the Czech Academy of Sciences. Klaus said science has no special status and in a time of recession is subject to the same austerity measures as healthcare or law enforcement.
Source: ČTK

Tata Bojs cancel shows after drummer’s crash
The Czech band Tata Bojs have cancelled its concerts until autumn due to singer and percussionist Milan Cais’s motorcycle accident. Cais broke several bones in the crash last week in Prague.

ČNB cuts key rate, updates GDP forecast
The Czech National Bank yesterday cut the repo interest rate from 1.5% to an all-time low of 1.25% in a bid to boost borrowing and ease the recession. Citco analyst Tomáš Volf says banks are unlikely to pass the cut on to clients and that loan approval policies will remain “tough”. The central bank also released an updated economic prognosis that foresees a 3.8% GDP contraction this year followed by growth of 0.7% in 2010 and 2.2% in 2011, and it predicted a long-term strengthening of the crown from an average CZK 26.6/EUR this year to CZK 25.3/EUR in 2011.
Source: most Czech press

ČSOB beats rivals with 7.3% profit growth
ČSOB, the largest Czech bank by assets, yesterday posted a pre-audit net profit of CZK 5.92 billion for the first half of the year, up 7.3% from January-June 2008. Česká spořitelna saw mid-year earnings drop by 4.4% to CZK 6.3bn, and Komerční banka’s profit declined by 10% to CZK 5.8bn.
Source: most Czech press

ČR posts record-high trade surplus
The Czech trade surplus was CZK 20.4 billion in June, CZK 6.5bn more than a year earlier and the second best monthly figure since Czechoslovakia’s partition in 1993. Both exports and imports dropped for the ninth consecutive month, by 15.1% and 19.3%, respectively.
Source: HN 15, Právo 17, ČTK

Exports to CIS down 27% in H1
Czech exports to Commonwealth of Independent States members declined 27% year-on-year in the first half of 2009. Analysts say low oil prices and weak domestic currencies are undercutting the markets in the former Soviet republics, prompting Czech firms to boost trade in other regions, including Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East.
Source: HN 16

Medical chamber probes drugs bribery allegation
The Czech Medical Chamber is investigating a Brno dermatologist accused of prescribing particular medications in exchange for bribes from pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Eliška Jugová could be rebuked by the chamber and fined up to CZK 30,000.
Source: HN 4

Revamped trains to cut travel times
Czech Railways will call a tender this month for 100 refurbished secondhand carriages for long distance passenger transport. The purchase will increase the maximum speed for most Czech express trains from 140 to 160 km/h.
Source: ČTK

Bankruptcies spike in July
July saw 129 companies go bust in the Czech Republic, the highest number since the current bankruptcy law took effect in January 2008, according to Credit Bureau figures.
Source: ČTK

T-Mobile’s Czech sales drop 2%
Mid-year revenue at T-Mobile was CZK 15.9 billion, 2% less than a year earlier, despite a 2.3% growth in customer numbers to 5.43 million. T-Mobile’s sales for the first time outpaced those of Telefónica O2, which saw revenue drop 5.5% to CZK 15.6bn despite boosting its client base by 2.1% to 4.84m.
Source: E15 8, LN 14

Bankrupt glassmaker finds new owner
Industrial holding company Ojgar will pay CZK 400 million for Sklárny Kavalier, the only functioning unit of bankrupt glassmaking group Bohemia Crystalex Trading. Ojgar owner Otakar Moťka says he wants to focus on the production of glass tubes for solar power plants.
Source: HN 15, 18

Aero looking to buy state aircraft repair firm
Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody is seeking to buy LOM Praha, the state-run aircraft repair company. E15 reports that the Defence Ministry favours the acquisition and would ask for CZK 800 million for LOM. The government must yet approve the deal.
Source: E15 6

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