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Breakfast Brief – 8 June 2009

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Table of Contents

ODS wins European Parliament elections
The Civic Democrats won the most EP seats this weekend with 31.44% of votes, while the leftwing ČSSD placed second with 22.4%. The Communists and KDU-ČSL ranked third and fourth, respectively, with 14.2% and 7.65%. The Greens, with just 2.05%, did not pass the 5% hurdle required to enter the EP. The turnout for the elections in the ČR was 28%. HN reported that an unknown number of people in Prague were not able to vote as they were not included on the voter rolls in the districts where they reside.
most Czech press

Caretaker cabinet wins confidence vote
The lower house deputies yesterday voiced confidence in the interim cabinet of PM Jan Fischer, which will govern the country until early elections in autumn.
most Czech press

Topolánek admits that it is his bare body in El País
ODS leader Mirek Topolánek admitted Friday that one of the nude photographs published in the Spanish left-leaning daily El País last week depicts his naked physique, but said that the shot was modified in a photomontage. He speculated that publishing such photographs on the day of European Parliament elections may be a part of a socialist campaign.
most press Sat

Watchdog quotes human rights violations in ČR
The country does not do enough to protect the rights of children whose parents are in prison or getting divorced, of many seniors, of foreigners and of Roma, according to a report by the Czech Helsinki Committee. The report warns of growing nationalism and neo-nazism.

Klaus opposes redress of past injustices
President Václav Klaus wrote on his website the government should not compensate victims of long ago ills during the current economic crisis. He was reacting to a proposal already passed by MPs to pay damages to Czech citizens who had to abandon their properties in Subcarpathian Rus during the Second World War.

Scientists endorse GM maize
Research conducted by the Czech Academy of Sciences supports the safety of genetically modified corn, Czech Television reported. The news was welcomed by the Agrarian Chamber but dismissed as biased by environmentalists. Bt maize is currently the only GM crop allowed in the EU; Spain and the Czech Republic are its two largest producers.

Man robbed while dying on the street
Police in Ostrava are looking for two cyclists who stole from a 58-year-old man who had collapsed. The duo failed to provide first aid and the victim later died.

Gambler turns himself in for robbery
The 34-year-old man who stole CZK 100,000 from a Raiffeisenbank branch in Prague’s Palladium shopping centre Thursday turned himself in to the police Friday morning after seeing himself on the news. He had spent all the money on slot machines, the police said.
LN 6 Sat, Právo 12 Sat

Právo: Catholic Church took funds from gambling
Between 2000 and 2007, the Catholic Church received over CZK 20 million from the Naděje třetího tisíciletí fund founded by the owners of Happy Day casinos in 1999, Právo reported on Saturday. The Church has long criticised gambling.
Právo 1, 2 Sat

Interior minister to give up post as anti-monopoly office head
Martin Pecina will leave his job today as the anti-monopoly office’s chief because of possible conflicts of interest with his role as interior minister. Courts are currently hearing disputes on some of the decisions he has made and fines he has levied – for example, against Českomoravská stavební spořitelna, OMV and Shell – which total hundreds of millions of crowns. If the state does not prove the existence of financial cartels, it may have to pay the firms millions of crowns in compensation.
HN 1, 17

Govt debt growing by thousands per second
The public debt is growing by CZK 5,705 per second, according to calculations made by Raiffeisenbank analyst Aleš Michl. The total debt has grown from CZK 1.1 trillion in late 2008 to almost CZK 1.2 trillion.

Klaus opposes economic intervention
Speaking at a conference in Warsaw, Czech President Václav Klaus warned last week against tendencies to increase market regulation. Klaus opined that the current global economic downturn “does not represent a defeat of the free market, but of politicians who have been undermining the free market”.

Watchdog: State neglects road repairs
The Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has accused the State Fund of Transport Infrastructure (SFDI) of giving preference to construction of new roads at the cost of insufficiently maintaining existing ones. Gustáv Slamečka, transport minister and former SFDI head, has dismissed the allegations.
LN 4 Sat

Švejnar and Říman cool their financial optimism
In a Czech Television debate yesterday, economist Jan Švejnar said the global economy may not be recovering yet, due to “more black holes” in the financial sector. The former presidential candidate added that US banks are still reluctant to lend money to industry. Former Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman warned that the recession has been spreading rather than diminishing in the Czech Republic.

Real wage growth slows to trickle
The average salary in the first quarter of 2009 was CZK 22,941 per month, CZK 534 or 2.4% more than a year earlier, according to the Czech Statistical Office. When adjusted for inflation, the real wage growth was only 0.3%. Analysts say that this is the slowest growth rate since the country separated from Slovakia in 1993 and that more stagnation can be expected this year.
most Czech press

Car scrapping bonus will not come soon
A system of subsidies for buyers of new cars who turn in their old cars has been prepared and might begin “around the turn of the year”, Industry and Trade Minister Vladimír Tošovský told Czech Television on Sunday.
HN 17, 20, Právo 7

Auto revenue dips 3.8% in 2008
The Czech Republic produced a record 948,128 cars last year, up from 939,788 in 2007, but the sector’s revenue dropped for the first time in history, by 3.8% to CZK 707 billion, according to the Automotive Industry Association (SAP). SAP chief Martin Jahn says that the car scrapping bonuses offered by some European governments are helping the sector overcome the downturn and the Czech Republic may boost output to more than 1 million cars this year.

Two travel agencies may face bankruptcy
Liberec-based Balkan Travel has suspended business and said it will soon request protection from creditors. Clients who were to go on holiday last weekend were promised refunds. The TV station Nova has also reported that Retur is not answering clients’ and partners’ phone enquiries, prompting speculation that this travel agent, too, may be on the verge of bankruptcy.
Právo 8 Sat, E15 11, ČTK

One-third of debt collectors involved in other businesses
About one-third of debt collectors in the ČR works or has worked in the past in some other lucrative pursuit, although their professional chamber’s ethics code does not allow for moonlighting. Most often, collectors do business in real estate, E15 reported.
E15 1, 10

Škoda announces Yeti prices
Škoda’s new off-road model will start at CZK 359,800, the carmaker stated Friday at the Brno 2009 motor show. Yeti will be sold in the Czech Republic and Germany as of mid-July.
Právo 5 Sat, HN 20

Builders drop prices to drum up business
Construction prices have dropped 10-35% against last year in some cases, according to contractors and the Jones Lang LaSalle consultancy.

Holba named best premium lager in ČR
Tasters in a České Budějovice contest granted the Pivo České republiky 2009 title to Holba’s 12º lager and Černá Hora’s pale 10º lager.

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