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Breakfast Brief – 12 May 2009

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Table of Contents

Entropa’s last day in Brussels
Workers at the EU Council in Brussels yesterday began to dismantle the controversial sculpture Entropa by Czech artist David Černý.
most Czech press

E15: Army to reduce foreign missions in Afghanistan
The Defence Ministry could save about CZK 1 billion by cutting the number of Czech military units in Afghanistan from seven to three in 2010, according to plans on foreign missions that MPs are expected to discuss in late June or early July.
E15 4

Sobotka: Klaus undermining Senate’s role
In reaction to President Václav Klaus’s critical statements last week on the Senate’s backing of the Lisbon Treaty, Senate chairman Přemysl Sobotka said yesterday that Klaus was challenging the importance of both the Senate as a sovereign body and the Czech EU presidency as well as making incoherent, emotional gestures.
LN 3

MEP Železný gets probation for tax evasion
An appellate court yesterday confirmed a two-year suspended sentence for Vladimír Železný, a Czech MEP and the former head of TV Nova, for evading taxes on imported art work. Additional cases, in which Železný could be sentenced to years in prison, are still under way.
most Czech press

New minister would like to keep medical fees
New Health Minister Dana Jurásková said yesterday as she took over from former minister Daniela Filipiová that she would like to maintain the existing system of cash co-payments for medical treatment. The lower house is expected today to vote on cancelling the fees. HN reports the opposition has 100 out of the needed 101 votes to pass the proposal.
most Czech press

Only two people apply for insulation subsidies
The government environment fund SFŽP has registered only two applicants to receive special subsidies to install housing insulation since it launched a CZK 25 billion programme two weeks ago, although thousands of people have requested information on the subsidies. Critics say conditions are too strict and people are put off by the huge amount of paperwork involved.
HN 3

Klaus’s aide publicly denies evolution
At a conference in late April, presidential adviser Petr Hájek outraged scientists by saying Darwinism was an outdated “fallacy” related to Marxism. Top Czech biologist Jan Zrzavý called Hájek a “religious fanatic” who was “completely off base”.

Kurier: Czech EU presidency chaotic
The Austrian daily Kurier reported yesterday that the Czech presidency of the EU has so far been full of “chaos, mishaps and embarrassments”.

Vietnamese cigarette gang crushed
Police last week arrested seven Vietnamese men and charged them with evading more than CZK 150 million in taxes associated with the illegal production and sale of cigarettes.

Roma man seeks asylum in Canada on segregation claims
Jaroslav Suchý yesterday flew to Canada to seek asylum there. The Roma man recently lost a lawsuit against the Czech state in which he sought CZK 500,000 in damages for being sent to a special school as a child, which he said constituted racial segregation.

Lubina gets off with suspended sentence
Ladislav Lubina, a former star of the Czech national ice-hockey team, yesterday received a suspended sentence for causing a traffic accident that killed one person in 2008.
Právo 4

Novinky: Czech transport minister is Slovak
Gustáv Slamečka is a Slovak national and spoke Slovak at his first press conference as new Czech transport minister yesterday. He told journalists he would apply for Czech citizenship.
Právo 1

Leasing, consumer lending tumble in Q1
The Czech leasing market shrank by a record 51.5% to CZK 10.7 billion in the first quarter of 2009, according to the ČLFA association. The volume of consumer loans fell 17.2% to CZK 10 billion, while loans to businesses rose 7.9% to CZK 4.6 billion.
most Czech press

Petrol prices back on the rise
The price of petrol at filling stations is rising in reaction to higher world crude prices. As of today, the wholesale price of petrol will rise 90 hellers a litre and diesel more than 50 hellers in one of the biggest price hikes in recent months. Motorists will see petrol prices rise above the current CZK 26 per litre; diesel prices are expected to rise more modestly from the current price of below CZK 25.30 a litre.
HN 15

New transport minister names priorities
New Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka said yesterday his budget priorities would be to complete Prague’s motorway ring-road and the D47 motorway in north Moravia. He added some less important projects may have to be suspended due to a lack of funding.

Škoda Auto launches production of Yeti
Škoda Auto launches production of its first off-road model, the Yeti, today, with cars to arrive in showrooms at the end of June and early July. Škoda is expected to announce the price at the Brno motor show in June.
HN 16, E15 8

ČEZ seen boosting Q1 bottom line 14%
Analysts polled by ČTK expect the power giant ČEZ on Wednesday to post a consolidated CZK 17.9 billion in net income for the first quarter, 14% more than a year earlier, on an 8% revenue growth to CZK 52.5 billion.
ČTK, E15 12

Car sales spike in Slovakia on scrapping bonuses
Slovaks in April bought 10,902 passenger cars and small lorries, up 17.1% year-on-year. The surge is attributed to the car-scrapping bonus introduced in Slovakia in March. Škoda remains the best selling brand, but its market share has fallen from 20% to 15% over the past year.

Bernard makes push to Peruvian market
Humpolec-based brewery Bernard has shipped bottled beer to Lima in its first attempt to sell in South America.

Brussels allows subsidies for Czech food makers
The European Commission has approved a plan by the Czech Agriculture Ministry for food companies to be able to draw more than CZK 1.3 billion in operational loans from domestic sources. According to the plan, food makers would see their debts temporarily settled by the state in conjunction with finance companies. The government’s farming fund expects to launch the programme in July at the earliest.
HN 15

Travel Service enters Polish holiday market
Czech private air carrier Travel Service has begun operating flights to dozens of European destinations for Poland’s largest travel agencies: Neckermann Polska, TUI, Itaka and Eco Holidays. Travel Service belongs to the Unimex/Travel Service consortium, which has bid for a stake in Czech Airlines.
HN 17

Czechs pull out of mutual funds
Total Czech investments in domestic and foreign mutual funds dropped by CZK 30.9 billion in the first quarter to CZK 213 billion, according to the Czech Capital Market Association.
HN 22

ŽDB Group union fears mass redundancies
Bohumín-based steel producer ŽDB Group will fire 500 of its 2,500 employees later this year, ČTK reports. Quoting the firm’s union chief, Aktuálně.cz reports there will be 1,000 redundancies. Company management has denied both reports.
ČTK, Aktuálně.cz

ČR’s use of communication technologies poor
The Connectivity Scorecard survey measuring the use of communication networks for economic and social progress has ranked the Czech Republic 20th among the world’s 25 most innovation-driven economies. The US, Sweden and Denmark lead the list; only Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Greece and Poland did worse than Czechs.

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