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Breakfast Brief – 13 February 2009

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Auditors allege fraud tie to Liberec ski championship

The Czech Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has filed a lawsuit against an unknown perpetrator alleging fraud and other crimes in connection with the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, to begin 18 February in Liberec. NKÚ President František Dohnal said the Education Ministry and individual investors, specifically the town of Liberec and the Technical University there, failed to do audits, costing the state dozens of millions of crowns.

most Czech press

VZP pays millions to firms close to Bém friend

Hospodářské noviny reports that companies close to Roman Janoušek, a friend of Prague Mayor Pavel Bém, got commissions worth CZK 120 million from state-controlled health insurer VZP last year. The Medea Kultur agency, founded by Janoušek in the 1990s, got CZK 20 million last year for a school drug-prevention projectm and receives CZK 12 million annually under a 2002 anti-drug programme. VZP also pays Ora Print, a firm formerly owned by Janoušek, CZK 87 million for producing a magazine. VZP spokesman Jiří Rod said all the commissions were assigned in tenders.

HN 1, 3

Klaus will not veto wiretap amendment

Rejecting appeals by Czech journalists, President Václav Klaus said yesterday that he will not veto legislation forbidding the publication of material obtained via wiretapping. In a letter to Miroslav Jelínek, head of the Czech syndicate of journalists, Klaus wrote that he would sign the amendment to the criminal code.

most Czech press

ČSSD might abolish direct vote for chair

The agenda for ČSSD’s party congress, set to start tomorrow, includes a proposal to abolish direct voting for the party leader, who is to be chosen at another party gathering next month. ČSSD Chairman Jiří Paroubek said the reason is that he is the only candidate. However, E15 says there might not be enough party members participating in the vote, which would make it invalid. On Saturday, the party will launch its election campaign for the June elections to the European Parliament.

most Czech press

Demonstrators back new library at Letná

Build It Yourself (Postav si sám), a rally in support of the new National Library building, was held Thursday at Letná. The event was attended by dozens of people who brought hundreds of books to show the need for a new library building. The new building was designed by the late architect Jan Kaplický. Vlastimil Ježek, the former National Library head, was among the participants.


Burmese families receiving asylum arrive in Prague

The Czech Republic will grant asylum to four Burmese families that arrived in the country yesterday. The refugees, with five children among them, had been persecuted in their homeland. They were transported to the integration centre in Northern Bohemia.

E15 4

LN: Regional coalitions unlikely to split over medical fees

Lidové noviny reports that representatives of the Moravia-Silesia region will send another request to abolish medical fees to the Chamber of Deputies, which will then have to vote on the fees within a month. On Wednesday, ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek and Michal Hašek, the party’s point man on regional issues, warned that ČSSD might denounce the regional coalition agreements with governmental parties. Lidové noviny called representatives of all seven regions with ČSSD-ODS or ČSSD-KDU-ČSL governments and found that none are facing splits over medical fees.

LN 4, HN 2


Car makers launching new models earlier

Hospodářské noviny reports that Škoda Auto will launch its first off-road model, the Yeti, at the Geneva auto show in March. The launch was moved up from September in an effort to attract public attention and show the carmaker remains strong. Hyundai will also start producing its i30 combi at its plant in Nošovice two months earlier than planned, and Kia in Nošovice will start production of the MPV in the summer instead at the end of the year.

HN 1, 16, E15 10

ČSOB Group’s net profit down by 90 %

ČSOB Group’s net profit fell by almost 90 % last year to CZK 1.03 billion, from CZK 9.90 billion in 2007. The total volume of loans grew by 19 % to CZK 404.2 billion. The bank had to revaluate its investment portfolio last autumn because of the global financial crisis.

most Czech press

Finance minister opposes excise tax increase

Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has come out against the Health Ministry’s proposal to increase the excise tax on alcohol and cigarettes. He said yesterday that less money would be collected in excise duties as consumers would buy cheaper cigarettes and alcohol in advance, as was the case in 2008. He also said the measure could prompt illegal alcohol smuggling.

HN 1, 4

Crown at three-year low

The Czech crown was trading for CZK 28.80/EUR on Thursday afternoon, the lowest level since March 2006, Patria Online said.

ČTK, HN 22

Radio report links Olomouc governor’s kin to contracting

Czech Radio’s Rádio Česko reported yesterday that Olomouc Regional Governor Martin Tesařík’s brother Josef is involved with the system that monitors European subsidies for the Regional Development Ministry. Josef Tesařík’s firm Tesco SW is a subcontractor of S&T, which operates the system. Rádio Česko alleged S&T had acquired the contract worth dozens of millions of crowns in an unlawful tender.


Survey: Global economy to hit bottom in third quarter

The global economy will hit bottom this year, most probably in the third quarter of 2009, said 80 % of respondents of a survey by Factum Invenio and Donath-Burson-Marsteller of managers and experts on financial markets. About 70 % said the Czech economy would grow up to 2 % this year., Aktuálně.cz, ČTK, LN 14

SOR Libchavy has won tender for Prague buses

Czech bus producer SOR Libchavy, a subsidiary of financial group J&T, has won the Prague Public Transit Company’s (DPP) tender for 620 new buses worth CZK 3.5 billion, the news site reported on Thursday. SOR will supply DPP with 60 NB 12 buses and 30 NB 18 buses by 2016, with an additional 200 buses to be provided by the end of 2018. SOR is planning to hire 100 new employees to complete the order. Buses currently used by the DPP are in bad technical condition.

Transport Ministry to examine ČD’s marketing activities

Yesterday, the lower house called on Transport Minister Petr Bendl to examine the marketing and sponsorship activities of Czech Railways in connection with the worsening economic results of the company. Earlier this week, the weekly Týden said anti-corruption police had started investigating ČD’s advertising expenses.

ČTK, Právo 18

Smaller-car sales on increase

Lidové noviny reports that smaller cars and discounted cars are recording fast growth in demand. According to the Car Importers Association, January sales of new cars increased by 13.5%. Škoda is the most sought-after brand, followed by Volkswagen and Ford. Milan Němec, head of Škoda sales in Autocentrum TA in Plzeň, said that 80% of customers pay in cash and that it is mostly older people who buy new cars.

LN 1, 14

Plus-Discount fined for not informing on waste collection

The Czech Environmental Inspectorate levied a CZK 800,000 fine on the Plus-Discount food chain. The fine was for breaking the law on waste management by not informing its customers that its stores collect waste such as used batteries, electrical appliances or tyres that had been originally purchased in the Plus-Discount outlets.


Brno IT firm buying into Xpert Image

The Brno-based IT firm Ysoft has bought an 80% stake in the US firm Xpert Image. YSoft CEO Václav Muchna said the company, which last year opened a branch in Japan, is planning further small acquisitions in Asia and the United States this year. Ysoft, founded in 2000 by a group of students, develops software and computer printing technologies.

HN 17

Billa to start selling holiday trips

The Billa retail chain plans to start selling holiday trips through its newly formed travel agency ITS Billa Travel. Billa is the first retail chain to offer such services in the Czech Republic.

LN 14

Bloomberg: Czech dividends to stay same

Bloomberg analysts estimate that despite Czech shares reaching their lowest in five years, the dividends for last year will remain the same or rise slightly from 2007 levels. The expected dividend from last year’s profit of Telefónica O2 and ČEZ, the two largest companies, is CZK 50.

HN 15

Bosch Diesel to introduce 4-day work week

Jihlava-based automotive component manufacturer Bosch Diesel will cut its production to four days a week as of March because of lack of orders, the firm’s spokesman said Thursday. The measure is to prevent mass layoffs in the company and will be in force until August.


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