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Breakfast Brief – 11 August 2009

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Table of Contents

Presidential secretary: Parties have agreed on grand coalition
Václav Klaus’ secretary, Ladislav Jakl, said on Radiožurnál on Friday that the ODS and ČSSD have already agreed that a coalition of the two parties will form after the elections. He also said that “big money” is behind the big publicity of the new TOP 09 and that the party has paid to influence the results of pre-election polls. All parties denied the claims.
Source: LN 1, 3

Křetínský: Czech Coal behind Tuscany villa campaign
Czech Coal, the leading brown coal supplier and J&T competitor, was behind the Tuscany villa campaign as well as the photographs of former PM Mirek Topolánek, lobbyist Marek Dalík and ČEZ CEO Martin Roman, said Daniel Křetinský, a J&T Group partner. Křetínský said that his group had previously gathered information on a negative campaign being prepared against J&T and the ČEZ CEO. Czech Coal CEO Petr Pudil denied the allegations.
Source: MfD A1, B3

Top 09 raises CZK 17.7m for campaign
As of 5 August, supporters of Top 09 had donated CZK 17.7 million for the new party’s upcoming election campaign. The party publishes the names of all donors on the internet. Party leader Miroslav Kalousek has said some donors are upset by excessive media attention.
Source: E15 3, Právo 1, 2, ČTK

Police investigate hospital privatisation in Central Bohemia
Anticorruption police have launched an investigation into the sale of 10 hospitals in Central Bohemia in 2007 under then Regional Governor Petr Bendl (ODS). The investigation focuses on the selection criteria under which the owners were chosen and the contract concluded between the region and Value Added consultancy. This is the second time that police have investigated the matter. HN reports the investigation started shortly before the general elections, in which Bendl will be the leading candidate in the region.
Source: HN 1, 4

ČSSD calls for new social benefits
The Social Democrats yesterday proposed a number of new welfare benefits, including up to CZK 3,500 per month for the unemployed who find jobs in different municipalities but cannot afford to commute. The party also called for extra benefits for pensioners and for loans that would help unemployed borrowers pay back loans they took out while still working.
Source: ČTK, Právo 2, MfD A1, A2, E15 2

Kmoníček named deputy foreign affairs minister
Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Kohout has appointed Hynek Kmoníček, until recently ambassador to India, his new deputy, replacing Tomáš Čermák. Kmoníček held the same post 10 years ago under a Social Democrat government.
Source: ČTK

Fire brigade investigates Incheba for breach of prevention standards
On the suspicion that the company broke official code last autumn when the left wing of the Industrial Palace burnt down, the Prague fire brigade has launched administrative proceedings against the Incheba company, which rents the Výstaviště fairgrounds from the city.
Source: MfD C1

Nurses may protest
Some nurses are planning to demonstrate because their hospitals do not have the money to increase their salaries by the 15% announced by the government.
Source: LN 4

Regions might seek insurance for bad road conditions
The recent decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of Miroslav Skalický vs. the Pardubice region that found the government responsible for his flat tyre due to a pothole might make local authorities seek insurance for similar cases, representatives of various localities confirmed.
Source: LN 3, Právo 5

Czechs save on food to fight crisis
Of 538 respondents polled by Median for the daily Mf Dnes, 71.6% said that the economic crisis has affected their lifestyles. Most often, people cope with the crisis by buying less and cheaper food. Czechs also save on clothing and holidays.
Source: MfD A1, A5

Tachecí moving from Z1 to Prima
TV presenter Barbora Tachecí will leave the private news channel Z1 as of the end of August. She has indicated that her new employer might be the station Prima. Meanwhile, Prima has announced that popular presenter Mirka Čejková would no longer read news.

Joblessness keeps rising
The unemployment rate grew to 8.4% in July, up from 8% in June, and way above the 5.3% reported a year earlier, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry announced yesterday.
Source: most Czech press

Ministry changes conditions for ‘green subsidies’ due to low demand
The Environment Ministry has changed the conditions for home-insulation subsidies, also known as the “Green Investment Scheme”, due to low demand; only 205 homes have applied for the programme since its launch in April. As of Monday, any reconstruction leading to better insulation will suffice if it increases energy savings by at least 20%, Environment Minister Ladislav Miko said. Starting in September, the programme will also extend to applicants living in prefabricated buildings.
Source: most Czech press

ČSSD wants to soften terms for euro adoption
Citing the global recession as a reason, Jiří Havel, Social Democrat MEP and shadow education minister, said yesterday that EU countries that have not yet adopted the euro should work together to negotiate a relaxation of eurozone accession criteria.
Source: ČTK

Inflation lowest in 6 years
Consumer inflation dropped to 0.3% in July, down from 1.2% in June, and the lowest level since September 2003, according to the Czech Statistical Office. Cheaper food and natural gas were the reasons. Analysts expect that inflation will keep shrinking in the following months and the country might face deflation for the first time since 2003.
Source: most Czech press

Tax paperwork costs Czech firms CZK 40bn
Czech businesses in 2007 spent CZK 40 billion on tax-related administrative costs, according to a study compiled for the Finance Ministry by the University of Economics in Prague.
Source: ČTK

Insolvencies on rise, trustees to take exams
The number of proposals on insolvency proceedings from January to July increased 64% year-on-year to 4,874, and analysts estimate the highest number of proposals at the end of the year. However, the number of insolvency trustees might fall due to new compulsory exams to take effect as of January 2010. Of the total of 3,700 trustees, 119 have completed the exam so far.
Source: LN 13

Czech mutual funds recover some losses
The value of assets managed by mutual funds for Czech investors increased in the second quarter by more than CZK 3.6 billion, to CZK 216.6 billion, the first recovery after the market shrank for 15 consecutive months, according to the Czech Capital Market Association.
Source: HN 13, 19

Makro’s new CEO planning expansion
The wholesale chain Makro is planning to build new stores in all major towns in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as build a distribution network in both countries, the company’s new CEO, Axel Hluchy, said. The expansion should launch next year and should bring Makro’s products closer to its customers, Hluchy said.
Source: HN 13, 14-15

T-Mobile will test 3G network in Prague
Nokia Siemens Networks and T-Mobile last week penned an agreement to launch trials of a third-generation Universal Mobile Telecommunications System – Frequency-Division Duplexing mobile network in Prague’s Roztyly neighbourhood in September. T-Mobile plans to offer the service to Prague customers by the end of the year.
Source: ČTK

Car leasing provider sees 41% slump
ŠkoFIN, one of the largest Czech leasing providers, saw business in the first half of 2009 drop 41% year-on-year to CZK 3.24 billion. The number of new contracts was down one-third to 10,000. The company blames the slump on the recession and a decline in consumption.
Source: ČTK

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