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Breakfast Brief – 9 March 2009

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Health Ministry crisis plan: Fewer, cheaper drugs

To help patients save money during the economic crisis, the Health Ministry proposes that doctors prescribe a generic medication rather than its name-brand version, allowing pharmacies to advise patients on various versions and their prices. Patients would be also able to buy only as much of a drug as they need rather than a full package. The ministry also plans to abolish some insurance contributions for preventive or wellness care, such as sunglasses, helmets and entry fees for swimming pools.

most Czech press

Man kills four at party in Moravian town

A gunman killed his former girlfriend, her parents and her fiancé during a celebration at a restaurant in Petřvald in north Moravia Sunday night, then shot himself, police reported. The man, described as a native of the former Yugoslavia in his early 40s, remains in hospital in critical condition.

most Czech press

Pub stop, walk to castle on Obama programme

US President Barack Obama’s unofficial agenda for his Prague visit next month will include a visit to a pub in the Hradčany district and a walk up Nerudova street to Prague Castle, unnamed sources tell Lidové noviny. The White House official confirmed Obama’s 4-5 April visit Thursday. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Friday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join Obama in Prague.

most Czech press

Klaus blasts new US administration’s plans

On a US visit to address a California conference on business and the environment, President Václav Klaus criticised the Obama administration, saying it is overspending and increasing state power. Klaus told the conference he was shocked at how much Americans trust the government and how little they trust the free market.

most Czech press

Respekt: PM meddled in Čunek case

Weekly magazine Respekt claims that Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek tried to manipulate the corruption investigation of former Deputy PM Jiří Čunek. According to Respekt, Topolánek sent two men, including current Deputy Health Minister Marek Šnajdr, to Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil with a ministerial complaint against Čunek with the intention of prolonging the case, but Pospíšil rejected it. Both Topolánek and Šnajdr deny the allegations; Pospíšil declined to comment.

HN 3

Greens expel four party rebels

The Green Party’s national council on Sunday expelled MPs Věra Jakubková and Olga Zubová, former Education Minister Dana Kuchtová and Martin Čáslavka from the party. All are supporters of a new Green faction, Demokratická výzva (Democratic Appeal).

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Head of private uni arrested

Anna Benešová, director of Prague’s private Metropolitan University, has been taken into custody on multiple charges of bribery and mismanagement.

Právo 1, 5 Sat, ČTK

Paroubek: No ČSSD business with Právo

Social Democratic leader Jiří Paroubek told Czech Radio 6 Thursday that he wants the party to cease advertising in the daily Právo, which he said has insulted the party.

Právo 1 Sat

State visits cost ČR CZK 21.5m

The Czech Republic paid CZK 21.5 million last year on official visits by 55 presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and EU representatives. Expenses for a one-day stop by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and an overnight stay by then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice amounted to CZK 800,000 each.

Právo 2 Sat

Poll: Czechs prefer EU over US in security

A STEM poll shows 74% of Czechs think a common EU security policy is more important for the country’s safety than cooperation with the US.


Last ČR soldiers pull out of Afghanistan

The last 66 Czech soldiers serving at the Shank base in Afghanistan’s Logar province returned home Friday. Commanding officer Pavel Lipka said all his troops survived the mission despite weekly rocket attacks against the base, roadside mines and an ambush on a Czech motorised patrol.


Poll: 32% of Czechs want women at home

Almost a third of Czechs polled by Median think women should stay at home and run the household. Nearly equal proportions say the opposite or have no opinion on the matter.



FinMin wants to end “supergross” wage

The Finance Ministry proposes doing away with the so-called supergross wage, which incorporates social and health insurance payments and thus effectively raises income taxes above the 15% level established last year. The supergross plan, introduced as part of the government’s fiscal reforms, should be replaced by a harmonised tax base with social and health payments deducted, Deputy Finance Minister Peter Chrenko said Sunday on a Czech Television discussion show.

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Prague to get Europe’s biggest Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe will open its largest European venue next month at Malé náměstí in Prague’s Old Town. The outlet will host concerts and charity events. A famous retail/restaurant/club chain opened a memorabilia shop at the site three months ago.

LN 6

Schwarzenberg backs Swiss banks

Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is backing Switzerland in the current dispute over releasing Swiss bank account information. Schwarzenberg acknowledged that Swiss banks’ secrecy could make possible tax evasion in the millions of euros but that said Switzerland’s tradition of neutrality and independence is of greater value.

LN 7, MfD B4

MfD: Carmakers eschewing Brno show

Mladá fronta Dnes reports that only five carmakers have applied to take part in this June’s Brno auto show, the only central European event on the calendar of the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. Car dealers rather than manufacturers will exhibit vehicles, at the show, which will likely be turned into a trade fair and shortened from some 10 days to one week.

Mfd A9 Sat

Prague Airport traffic down sharply in January

Passenger traffic at Prague Airport dropped 14% year-on-year in January to 650,000. The number of flights declined 10% to 12,000, and freight volume sank more than a fourth to 2,900 tonnes. The downturn started last autumn after years of solid growth and before the airport’s planned privatisation this year.


Chrenek’s energy firm in bankruptcy

The Regional Court in Ostrava sent Moravia Energo, part of billionaire Tomáš Chrenek’s business empire, to administration. Creditors have a month to submit their claims.

LN 7 Sat, HN 15, 19

EU will let CEE draw funds faster

New EU members, including the Czech Republic, can draw an extra EUR 7.5 billion this year from funds originally slated for disbursement between 2010 and 2013. European Commission President José Barroso said Friday in Prague that the move will help member states better deal with the economic crunch.


Survey: Most companies expect to end ’09 in red

A Chamber of Commerce survey shows 55% of Czech businesses expect to post losses for 2009. Many firms are producing less and cutting jobs or whole operations as demand keeps declining.


Samsung opens first Prague brand shop

South Korean electronics maker Samsung last week opened its first brand shop in Prague, at the Palác Flora mall in Vinohrady.


Fuel in ČR among Europe’s cheapest

Czechs were paying an average of CZK 25.30/litre for petrol and CZK 24.74/l for diesel last, CZK 2.5 and CZK 1.7 less than the average of 30 European countries. Among the country’s neighbours, only Poles drive for less.


Crunch will hurt town halls’ tax income

Czech municipalities will lose CZK 5 billion-6 billion in tax revenue this year if GDP drops by 2% as expected, Kladno Mayor Dan Jiránek said Friday. Jiránek said town halls will have to ask for loans or cut investments.


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