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Breakfast Brief – 9 November 2009

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Table of Contents

ČSSD and ODS nominate Fischer for EU commissioner
Prime Minister Jan Fischer confirmed on Saturday that both the ČSSD and ODS nominated him for the EU commissioner post, announcing yesterday to President Václav Klaus his decision to remain the prime minister and not assume the new role. ODS chairman Mirek Topolánek said that he didn’t understand Fischer’s turnaround, and added that on Friday the prime minister accepted the nomination. According to a poll by SANEP, 82% of respondents disapprove of Fischer’s leaving his post to become the EU commissioner.
Source: most Czech press

Fischer nominates National Bank head for EU commissioner
Česká televize reported yesterday that Prime Minister Jan Fischer nominated Zdeněk Tůma, the governor of the Czech National Bank, for the EU commissioner post. The cabinet should approve the candidate today.
Source: most Czech press

Poll: 88% dissatisfied with political situation
According to a survey by Median, 88% of the public is discontent with the current political situation, mainly due to the disputes about the early elections. The respondents assigned President Václav Klaus the best grade, 3.1 out of 5, for acting the most appropriately during the dispute.
Source: ČTK

ČSSD opposes sending more soldiers to Afghanistan
The ČSSD disapproves of increasing the number of Czech soldiers in Afghanistan, the party’s shadow foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said on Saturday, adding that it might be better to discuss different strategies with allies.
Source: ČTK

MfDnes: Soldiers in Afghanistan sport SS logos
Mladá fronta Dnes reports that the heads of the fourth Czech army brigade who recently returned from Afghanistan wore helmets with logos of Nazi divisions and the SS brigade. The soldiers who spoke to Mladá fronta Dnes said that army higher-ups were intentionally masking the incident.
Source: MfD A1- A3

Police to probe racist Facebook group
According to a spokeswoman, police will look into a Facebook group created on 4 November that boasts racist comments. Named With one fan more … one gypsy less! Let’s clean ČR!, the group had 7,000 members by Sunday evening.
Source: LN 6

MPs demand halt to ecological tender
On Friday, the Chamber of Deputies approved the request to stop the state tender for cleaning up places that are environmentally damaged and a proposal to reassess the cleanup’s effectiveness. Cyril Svoboda, the chairman of the KDU-ČSL, which drafted the proposal, said that the tender favours one big company. ODS and TOP 09 opposed the bill.
Source: LN 13 Sat, Právo 2 Sat

City Council proposes wage cuts for public transit heads
Mayor Pavel Bém requested on Friday that the management of the Prague Public Transit Company decrease wages for top staff by 30% and other employees by 7%, as well as cut back on social perks. Bém suggested this in response to the company’s request for an additional CZK 2 billion on top of its CZK 7.15 billion budget. Petr Pulec, the chairman of the union that represents Prague Public Transit Company employees, said that wage cuts won’t solve anything and that a labour strike, currently planned for 12 November, will proceed. On Saturday, ČSSD deputy chairman Zdeněk Škromach said that his party backed the labour strike, and called the city council incompetent in securing the conditions for functional public transit. On Friday, Bém set up a crisis team with the main aim of halting the strike and proposing solutions for the financing. On Tuesday, Bém will propose that the transit company receive a CZK 900 million bank transfer, he announced yesterday.
Source: most Czech press

Constitutional Court head questions university
The Constitutional Court’s chairman, Pavel Rychetský, said yesterday that the scandal-ridden law faculty at the University of West Bohemia degrades the legal profession and has little right to operate. The rector of the University of West Bohemia, Josef Průša, said on Saturday that the committee appointed to investigate fraudulent degrees has checked one-fifth of the students, but did not say with how many of them the university had found irregularities.
Source: ČTK

Justice Ministry owes CZK 300 million in court fees
Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová said yesterday that her agency owes CZK 300 million in unreturned court fees, due to insufficient financial resources and a change in the collections system, which should go back to the old way in January.
Source: ČTK

Competition for Prague Zoo director boasts 18 candidates
Eighteen potentials have entered the race to head the Prague Zoo, a post left empty when Petr Fejk left in October. The candidates include the National Economic Council’s Miroslav Zámečník and Nova news’s editor-in-chief Jan Vávra.
Source: ČTK

Economy to grow by 0.5% in 2010
According to a prognosis by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, the Czech economy will increase by 0.5% in 2010, after this year’s drop of 3.5%. The institute expects a total fall of 4% this year, a rise by at least 0.1% in 2010 and 2.4% increase in 2011 in all central and western EU member states.
Source: ČTK

Deputies to discuss 2009 budget on Friday
Miloslav Vlček, the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, called a 13 November meeting to discuss the proposal for increasing this year’s state budget gap from CZK 38 billion to CZK 52 billion, among other issues.
Source: ČTK

Antimonopoly office green-lights J&T’s takeover
Petr Rafaj, the chairman of the antimonopoly office, said on Friday that International Power Opatovice’s sale to the J&T financial group was approved after two months of assessment. The transaction, in which J&T would purchase all shares worth CZK 22.5 billion of International Power’s Czech unit, will move into its final stage. The complaint against the transaction was filed by Czech Coal in July.
Source: ČTK

Number of illegal workers doubles in H1
In the first half of 2009, the number of illegal labourers in the country almost doubled year-on-year. Labour bureaus gave out 600 fines worth CZK 32.3 million in H1, CZK 2 million more than for all of last year.
Source: LN 15

HN: Demoted debt collections head back in business
In early October, Juraj Podkonický, the dismissed former head of the national debt collectors’ chamber, was appointed secretary for central and eastern Europe within an international body representing the same trade, Hospodářské noviny reports. Jana Tvrdková, the head of the debt collectors’ chamber, said that management will keep an eye on Podkonický, who was removed in spring after years of postponing setting up a records system.
Source: HN 1, 17

Orco Property Group merges four daughter companies
The developer Orco Property Group announced its plan to merge Orco Investments, Nové Medlánky, IPB Real Reality and Seattle in order to “optimize the structure and lower expenses”, company spokeswoman Petra Zdeňková said.
Source: E15 13

ČEZ to buy Dalkia shares
The heads of the energy giant ČEZ signed a contract yesterday to purchase 15% of the shares in Dalkia, the second largest company within the Czech heating sector. The transaction is worth CZK 9 billion.
Source: HN 1, 17

Česká pojištovna’s profits climb to CZK 4.8 billion year-on-year
Owing to one-time profitable deals, the nations No 1 insurer increased its profits from CZK 1.4 billion to CZK 4.8 billion. This was aided by the selling off of Zentiva’s shares.
Source: ČTK

Number of job applicants doubles year-on-year
According to LMC, which runs the portals and, the number of applications for employment grew by 100% annually, but offers decreased 40% between January and October.
Source: ČTK

Profits from public auctions down by 50% year-on-year
The profits generated by public auctions dropped by 50% to CZK 1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2009. The number of auctions fell by one-tenth to 1,689 between January and September year-on-year. Libor Nevšímal, of the auction group Naxos, said that the drop owes to low investor activity caused by banks’ unwillingness to finance such transactions.
Source: ČTK

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