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Breakfast Brief – 10 February 2009

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Schwarzenberg: Radar to come in five years at the earliest

The planned US anti-missile radar base will not be finished in less than five or six years, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Monday before a scheduled meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today. The reasons behind the delay include the financial crisis and the US budget deficit. Participants at a NATO summit last spring said they expected the radar to be completed by 2011 or 2012.

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Govt to pay foreigners for trips home

The government yesterday approved a plan to provide a flight ticket and a bonus payment of EUR 500 for 2,000 foreigners who lost jobs in the Czech Republic due to the economic crisis and do not have money to get home. The estimated cost will be almost CZK 61 million.

E15 2, MfD B2

Cabinet approves new electoral system

The cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the electoral system, modelled on the Greek system, which hopes to avoid future stalemates in parliament by granting the winning party and smaller parties more seats. The proposal now goes to parliament, where a major dispute is expected over how these “bonus” seats would be allocated.

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Insurers ready to fine hospitals for not collecting fees

Health insurance companies want to start issuing fines of up to CZK 50,000 to regional hospitals and pharmacies for not collecting medical fees from patients, which they say is a violation of the law on health insurance. The governor of the Pardubice region, Radko Martínek (ČSSD), yesterday called on citizens to continue paying the fees despite the fact they were cancelled in the region nine days ago.

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Police to confiscate cars for driving offences

Police officers increasingly will use their right to temporarily impound cars as a way of cracking down on traffic offences, according to the new head of the traffic police, Leoš Tržil. Since the beginning of 2009, the police have confiscated four cars, Tržil said.

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Liberec police chief arrested for fraud

Liberec chief of police Miroslav Dvořák was among several high-ranking officers who were arrested yesterday and charged with five offences, including accepting bribes and embezzlement. The police have not yet released further details. TV Nova was the first to report on the arrest yesterday.

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Klaus signs Montenegro’s EU accession agreement

President Václav Klaus has ratified an agreement on stabilisation and eventual accession of Montenegro to the European Union, presidential spokesman Radim Ochvat said yesterday.


Poll shows most Czechs not interested in EU presidency

A majority of Czechs are not interested in the Czech EU presidency, according to a January CVVM survey, though the survey showed that interest had grown from just around 30% in December to about 40% last month. More than 60% of respondents older than 15 said they did not have enough information on the subject.



Jobless rate leaps in January to 6.8%

The unemployment rate grew to 6.8% last month from 6% in December, the highest month-to-month increase in the history of the Czech Republic. The number of unemployed workers grew to more than 390,000, the highest since April 2007. Analysts had expected the January unemployment rate to be 6.5%.

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Sarkozy to stop trying to get French carmakers to leave ČR

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will end efforts to persuade French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën to move production from the Czech town of Kolín to France, the French daily Le Monde reported, adding that Sarkozy yielded to pressure from Czech PM Mirek Topolánek.

Právo 11, LN 13

Nečas proposes loosening labour rules to fight unemployment

Labour Minister Petr Nečas has proposed temporarily loosening employment rules for two years to give companies the option of hiring workers on the basis of a trade licence instead of a regular employment contract, which would allow the companies to save thousands of crowns on social and health insurance. Nečas said many companies use such a system today, even though it’s against the law. Unions say the measures would cost the treasury billions of crowns.

HN 1,2, Právo 1,2

ČR to call EU summit to tackle economic crisis

The Czech Republic, acting as EU president, will call an informal summit of EU heads of state to discuss the economic crisis, PM Mirek Topolánek said yesterday. The summit is to take place in Brussels before the end of the month and further details will be announced Wednesday after Topolánek meets with European Commission head José Manuel Barroso.

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Inflation slows to 2.2% in January

Consumer price growth slowed to an annual rate of 2.2% in January from 3.6% in December, it’s lowest rate since March 2007, the Czech Statistical Office reported yesterday.

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Hypoteční banka head: Mortgages will not get cheaper soon

Last week’s central bank interest rate cut will not make mortgages any cheaper, according to Jan Sadil, the head of Hypoteční banka, the Czech market leader in mortgage volume in 2008. He said the higher costs of refinancing must also be reflected in mortgage interest rates.

HN 13, 14, 15

ČEZ to cancel 10% of shares, increase state share

The energy giant ČEZ has filed an application to invalidate 10% of its shares, which it bought back from July 2007 to April 2008. The move will lower the company’s foundation capital, and in turn will increase the state’s stake to 70% from the 63% and grant it more dividends. Analysts said ČEZ made the move to improve its capital structure.

HN 13

PPF to bid on state environment contract

Petr Kellner’s PPF Group announced yesterday it would take part in a state bid to clean up environmental waste together with AVE CZ, Dekonta and Ecosoil Süd. All participants in the tender will be officially announced today by the Finance Ministry.


PPF withdraws suit against Zentiva

The financial group PPF has withdrawn a lawsuit it filed seeking to call an extraordinary meeting of Zentiva shareholders in order to get details of French firm Sanofi-Aventis’s take-over bid for the pharmaceuticals company. PPF received the information it was seeking at a Zentiva meeting yesterday.

most Czech press

Škoda wins tender worth CZK 1.6bn

Plzeň-based Škoda Transportation has won a tender to supply the city of Wroclaw in south-western Poland with 28 new trams. The value of the order is CZK 1.6 billion.


Court declares Kavalier glassworks insolvent

The Prague City Court has declared the Sázava-based glassmaker Sklárny Kavalier from the BCT group to be bankrupt. The insolvency administrator will select a financial adviser by the end of the week to find a new owner.


ArcelorMittal to sack 650

The country’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal Ostrava, will sack more than 650 employees by mid-March, significantly more than the company had predicted at the beginning of 2009. ČTK reported the layoffs will affect both white- and blue-collar workers.


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