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Breakfast Brief – 10 November 2009

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Table of Contents

Cabinet fails to decide on commissioner
The government failed to agree yesterday on the country’s candidate for EU commissioner and should make a decision at a special session today, cabinet spokesman Roman Prorok said. The news portal reported yesterday that the current commissioner, Vladimír Špidla, is the most probable to be nominated for the post as he received eight votes in the cabinet’s unofficial tally yesterday. Czech National Bank Governor Zdeněk Tůma, nominated for the post by PM Jan Fischer yesterday, refused the nomination after receiving one vote.
Source: most Czech press

Army takes action against extremists in its ranks
Lukáš Sedláček, the co-founder of the neo-Nazi organisation White Justice, was fired yesterday from the army. Two soldiers who wore helmets with SS logos, as well as a commander who failed to discipline them, were suspended, Defence Minister Martin Barták said.
Source: MfD A1, A4, Právo 1,

Ministry may file complaint against Facebook group
Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb said that he was considering filing a complaint about the recently established Facebook group against Roma. He said that the group’s existence was unacceptable and expressed his surprise at the number of members, which was 7,800 yesterday.
Source: LN 4

Cabinet: No pay for non-citizen relatives of communist victims
The cabinet recommended yesterday that the lower house not support a Senate proposal under which relatives of victims of the communist regime who do not have Czech citizenship could receive one-off compensation, Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová said yesterday.
Source: ČTK

List of communist intelligence members released
Yesterday, the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes released a list of some 1,000 members of the former communist intelligence services, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The list includes Jiří Komorous, the deputy interior minister and former head of the national anti-drug centre (NPC).
Source: most Czech press

Three-quarters think age discrimination common in ČR
About 74% of Czechs believe that discrimination on the basis of age is more or less common in the country, a Eurobarometer survey published yesterday has found. Of all the EU countries, only Hungarians, at 79%, believe so as strongly.
Source: ČTK

Bém to defend post of Prague ODS chairman
Prague Mayor Pavel Bém will be fighting today for the post of chairman of the city branch of the ODS with his first deputy Rudolf Blažek, who is the favourite at the moment.
Source: most Czech press

Chomutov Mayor sues Plzeň university
Chomutov Mayor Ivana Řápková filed suit with the Plzeň District Court against the University of Western Bohemia yesterday, demanding an apology for statements questioning the legitimacy of her studies at the local Law Faculty and the compensation of CZK 1 million for defamation.
Source: most Czech press

Public buys out surgical masks en masse
Lidové noviny reports that the public has bought out surgical masks across the country out of fear of the swine flue pandemic. Jan Mareček, the director of a facility in south Moravia, said that surgical masks are not effective in keeping out viruses and that the best protection is for the infected individuals to stay at home.
Source: LN 1, 4

Právo: Doubts surround customs chief’s tapped phone
Právo reports that Ústí nad Labem customs officers investigating illegal trade of diesel tapped the mobile phone of the head of the customs bureau in Most, Karel Sobík, likely to discredit and blackmail him. According to Právo, Sobík was not a suspect in the case concerning Litvínov-based Setadiesel. The heads of the Ústí nad Labem bureau dismissed the idea that the tapping was part of a war among custom officers.
Source: Právo 1

Unemployment falls slightly in October
The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point from September, to 8.5% at the end of October. At the same time last year, though, the rate was just 5.2%, according to statistics from the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. Pavel Mertlík, of Raiffeisenbank, said that the number of sacked people fell in October, as did the number of people who found new jobs. Analysts expect the unemployment rate to grow further in the next months.
Source: most Czech press

Consumer prices fall for the first time in six years
Consumer prices fell by 0.2% in October, the first year-on-year drop since August 2003, the Czech Statistical Office announced yesterday. The drops in food and nonalcoholic drinks prices are the main reasons. Economists say that prices have reached their bottom and will grow again in November.
Source: most Czech press

Speculators boosting crown; ČNB may intervene
The crown is firming sharply as foreign investors are using the currency for speculative deals involving US dollars. The crown reached 25.58 per euro and got close to CZK 17 to the dollar yesterday, nearly a high for the year. Economists expect that the central bank will intervene because the strong currency is pushing prices too low and slowing the economy down.
Source: HN 1

Public transit unions give ultimatum to the city
Trade unions for the Prague Public Transit Company failed to come to an agreement on any of their requirements submitted with City Council yesterday. According to the unions, the City Council has until midnight Wednesday to meet their conditions. If it fails to do so, the unions will start preparing a strike. Any stoppage would be announced three days ahead.
Source: most Czech press

Agriculture Ministry halts half a billion crown in tenders
The Agriculture Ministry halted several IT tenders worth CZK 500 million because of the allegedly unclear manner in which they were assigned and a change in the office’s strategy, the ministry announced yesterday. Shortly after becoming agriculture minister in May, Jakub Šebesta abolished a department responsible for public tenders that had been founded under his predecessor, Petr Gandalovič.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

ČEZ acquires 85% stake in Dalkia Ústí nad Labem
The power giant ČEZ signed a contract with Dalkia ČR yesterday to acquire a 15% stake in the company and an 85% stake in Dalkia Ústí nad Labem for CZK 6.3 billion, a price based on a 100% stake as ČEZ holds the option to buy up the remaining 15% of the latter company. Dalkia Ústí nad Labem is the owner of the Trmice heating plant and of a 20% stake in Tepelné hospodářství Ústí nad Labem.
Source: most Czech press

PPF’s net profit in H1 down by billions
Petr Kellner’s PPF Group posted a net profit of CZK 3.5 billion in the first half of 2009, compared to CZK 70 billion in the same period last year. The company’s high profit last year was due to its major transaction with Generali Group, PPF announced in a press release yesterday.
Source: most Czech press

Lottery firms lobbying against taxes on gambling
Lottery companies will lobby to change the plan for a 30% tax on gambling, which they say would put them out of business. Marek Herman, head of the association of betting operators, said another objective is to persuade the state to take action against foreign firms operating without a Czech license.
Source: HN 15

AAA Auto posts net profit of CZK 23.1m
The AAA Auto used-car dealer posted a consolidated net profit of EUR 900,000 (CZK 23.1 million) in the first nine months of the year, compared to last year’s loss of EUR 200,000, owing to savings, analysts said. Its yields dropped by 42% to EUR 42.7 million.
Source: Aktuálně.cz, HN 18, E15 14

Škoda launches Superb Combi
The carmaker began manufacturing the Superb Combi, the most spacious of its models, yesterday. The new model will be available for purchase by the end of November, and its price will start at CZK 589,000.
Source: HN 18, Právo 16

Hire-purchase firms apply stricter conditions on applicants
Hire-purchase companies are rejecting loan seekers who already owe money somewhere else. Erich Čomor, head of Home Credit, said that his company rejects about 50% of those applying for cash loans and a quarter of those seeking to buy goods on credit. The decreased access to these loans is given by the lenders’ growing concerns that people will be unable to repay them.
Source: HN 15

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