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Breakfast Brief – 10 March 2009

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NEWS

Case of suspected human BSE appears in ČR for first time

A 60-year-old woman has been hospitalised in Teplice with suspected mad cow disease, TV Prima reported yesterday. Doctors say it could be a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease. It is not yet clear where and how the woman was infected.

most Czech press

Afghanistan to be on agenda for Obama in Prague

The joint mission in Afghanistan will be one of the topics that top EU politicians will discuss with US President Barack Obama at the April EU-US summit in Prague, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said after his Monday meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

ČTK

Greens to fly Tibetan flag

The Green Party is planning to fly a Tibetan flag today to honour the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising when 87,000 Tibetans were killed. The flag will display the party’s logo so that it is not mistaken for representing the opinions of the entire lower house. The chairman of the lower house, Miloslav Vlček (ČSSD), disapproves of the action and has introduced a rule where such acts must be approved by a parliamentary panel. The ministries of education and environment, both run by the Greens, will also fly the Tibetan flag.

HN 2, MfD A1, A4

New Green faction seeking registration

A new Green Party faction has applied for registration under the name Demokratická strana zelených (DSZ, Green Democratic Party) after collecting the required 1,000 signatures. The Interior Ministry will decide in two weeks.

Právo 1, 3, MfD A4

At least 4,000 farmers to take part in Thursday protest

At least 4,000 farmers from several European countries are expected in Prague on Thursday to protest the visit of EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel, Agrarian Chamber head Jan Veleba said Monday. The farmers are protesting different conditions for farmers in old and new EU member states.

Aktuálně.cz, Právo 18

Flu drugs to be less accessible

Sick people will be allowed to get only about four packets of medications per week for treating the common cold and flu without a doctor’s prescription, according to a plan designed by police and the Health Ministry. The measure aims to reduce sales of medications containing pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make illegal drugs. The Czech pharmaceutical chamber estimates about 80% of last year’s 6.3 tonnes of the medication sold in the Czech Republic were used to make illegal drugs.

HN 2

ČSSD publishes health programme for 2010 elections

Shadow health minister David Rath (ČSSD) has announced the party’s programme for reforming the health system. The plan would abolish medical fees but would allow hospitals to introduce fees for food. It would also exclude some cheap medications from insurance coverage and fuse the three largest health insurers. ČSSD plans to increase financing for health sector from the current 7% of GDP to 8%, a rise of CZK 40 billion.

HN 1, 2

Govt puts off anti-crisis healthcare package

The cabinet on Monday did not discuss the Health Ministry’s anti-crisis plan put forward to deal with this year’s fall in health insurance collections. PM Mirek Topolánek said he wanted to discuss details of the plan with Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Nečas, who on Monday led a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

Právo 2

A fifth of Czechs aged 16-24 have tried drugs

A Median poll has revealed that a fifth of Czechs aged from 16 to 24 have tried drugs and that this age group has the lowest proportion (73.1%) of people who think using drugs is bad.

ČTK

BUSINESS

Czech exports fall 24% in January from year ago

The value of Czech exports in January reached CZK 162 billion, a 24% drop from a year ago and the biggest year-on-year fall the country has ever seen. Imports fell 21.3%, and foreign trade ended with a surplus of CZK 3.5 billion.

HN 15, Právo 18

Komerční banka to sell gold bars

Komerční banka will begin buying and selling gold bars in the next few days in response to customers looking for more secure forms of investment. So far the offer is only open to the bank’s private clients. The bank is recommending clients hold at most 5%-10% of their portfolios in gold since prices could fall once other markets recover. Other big banks are also able to sell gold to clients on an individual basis.

HN 1, 19

Jobless rate rises to 7.4% in Feb

The Czech unemployment rate increased to 7.4% in February from 6.8% in January. Analysts had forecast a rise to 6.9-7.1%.

most Czech press

Wood & Co buys back Straumur stake

Wood & Co is buying back an almost 50% stake in the brokerage it sold to the Icelandic bank Straumur two years ago. Straumur yesterday was taken over by the state. Vladimír Jaroš, a partner and one of the main shareholders of Wood & Co, said the firm was strong enough to repurchase its shares and that its activities are financially and operationally independent of Straumur bank.

HN 13, MfD B4

Škoda Auto sales boosted by scrap bonuses

Carmaker Škoda Auto has seen its sales rise in some European countries that have introduced paying scrap bonuses as a way of stimulating car sales. The carmaker’s sales rose in Germany, France and Italy and fell in Romania and Portugal. Slovakia yesterday introduced such a bonus for scrapping old cars, offering to pay EUR 2,000 in cases where the carmaker lowers the price by EUR 500. In other cases, the bonus is just EUR 1,000.

E15 8

Ministry not abandoning ‘supergross’ wage completely

The Finance Ministry is not abandoning the supergross wage concept but wants to use it to build a new income tax system that would be simpler and easier to administer and reduce costs for both taxpayers and the state, Deputy Finance Minister Peter Chrenko said Monday, clarifying information he provided on Czech Television on Sunday.

MfD B2, ČTK

Govt approves CZK 2.6bn for farmers

Ministers on Monday approved CZK 2.6 billion in financial assistance for farmers affected by the economic crisis. The money from the farmers’ guarantee fund will provide operating loans for farmers as well as for forestry companies and firms that process farm products.

ČTK

Inflation lowest since March 2007

Consumer price growth slowed to 2% year-on-year in February from 2.2% a month earlier. February inflation was 0.5 percentage points above the latest central bank forecast owing to higher-than-expected prices of fuels and foodstuffs.

ČTK

Average wage grows to CZK 23,542

The average monthly wage in the Czech Republic rose by 8.5% to CZK 23,542 last year, the biggest yearly nominal increase since 2001. However, real wages rose just 2.1%, the lowest in 10 years.

most Czech press

Kunert: Banks in ČR will have to raise reserves

Czech banks will have to double or even triple their reserves for bad loans this year, Czech Banking Association president Jiří Kunert told the Reuters news agency Monday. The proportion of unpaid loans could rise to 6% or more from 3.1% at the end of last year, Kunert said. However, the banks’ position is relatively good, so the worsening environment will not pose much of a threat, he said.

ČTK

Troubled porcelain maker Karlovarský porcelán may be sold

Bidders expressed interest in virtually all of the production units of the collapsing Karlovarský porcelán, the largest Czech porcelain producer. The creditor committee will analyse the bids in about a week and could decide on new owners then.

HN 16, Právo 4

Vodafone launches 3G in parts of Prague

The mobile operator Vodafone launched trial operation of its third-generation UMTS network in Prague 9 and 10 on Monday. The company wants to switch to regular operation by the end of the month.

ČTK

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