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Breakfast Brief – 15 July 2009

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Table of Contents

ČR fights back with Canadian diplomat visas
The Czech Republic has imposed a visa requirement on Canadian diplomats to retaliate against Canada’s decision yesterday to reimpose  visas for Czech nationals. The Czech government also recalled its ambassador in Canada. The European Commission yesterday ruled out its automatic imposition of EU visas on Canada in response to the Canadian visa decisions. Czech citizens from now on will need to pay EUR 45 for a short-term Canadian visa. Hospodářské noviny reports that Canada and EU member states had agreed early on that the EU would not introduce reciprocal visas for Canadians based on the Czech visa decision.
most Czech press

Canada: Czech MPs knew about visas in June
The Canadian government had told Czech cabinet as long ago as the end of June about its irreversible decision to reimpose visas on Czech citizens, Canadian ambassador Michael Calcott said on Tuesday. The comment came in response to criticisms from Czech politicians yesterday of Ottawa’s decision to reintroduce visas for Czechs at the last minute.
most Czech press

ODS blames Canadian decision on weak Czech govt
The Civic Democrats yesterday lashed out at the weak Czech caretaker government’s handling of talks on reimposing Canadian visas on Czechs, saying Foreign Minister Jan Kohout had underestimated the threat. The Social Democrats meanwhile backed the government’s response to the Canadian visa issue. Roma activists blamed the visa rules on the activities of local extremists.
ČTK, Právo 2

ODS fails to oust Rath in Central Bohemia
The Central Bohemian branch of the Civic Democrats failed yesterday in its bid to dismiss Regional Governor David Rath (ČSSD) because it could not gather enough support from among council representatives. ODS has criticised Rath for blocking investments, drawing improperly on EU funds and ignoring court rulings on health care fees.
ČTK, HN 4, MfD A5

Poll: More Czechs want quotas on female politicians
At least 47% of Czechs believe the country should introduce quotas to ensure that women hold a certain number of state political posts, according to a CVVM poll in June. In a November 2007 poll, 39% of respondents had given support to such quotas.

City Hall removes taxis from Old Town Square
Prague City Hall yesterday closed down the taxi standpoints on Old Town Square, remodelling them as parking lots for disabled persons. Prague City Court has ruled in favour of the city on this matter after a four-year-long dispute between City Hall and taxi companies. City Hall has tried to remove the taxis because of massive overcharging by drivers. Taxi drivers plan to dispute the decision.
MfD C1, C3, Pd 2

New Brno court building under investigation
A controversial new court of justice worth CZK 1.9 billion was opened yesterday in Brno. The original costs for the project were calculated as CZK 805 million in 2009. The construction is under police investigation, however, because of alleged mismanagement by court and government representatives. The President of the Supreme Audit Office František Dohnal filed a complaint last August, but the investigation had only started in spring this year.
most Czech press

Analysts: Czech industry may pick up in June
An increase in EU industrial output for May by 0.1% would positively affect Czech industry, analysts said yesterday. Growth was recorded mainly in France (2.6%) and Germany (3.7%), the market on which the Czech Republic primarily depends. Radomír Jáč of Generali PPF Asset Management hopes that Czech industrial production and exports would pick up as early as June, but Marek Hatlapatka of Cyrrus warned that the results are only provisional and may be affected by car scrapping bonuses.
HN 13, 17

Retail sales down 7.5% in May
Total retail sales dropped annually by 7.5% in May, the Czech Statistical Office reported Tuesday. Seasonally adjusted retail sales, including those for the automotive industry, dipped by 2.1% month-on-month and 5.3% year-on-year.
most Czech press

SkyEurope shareholders approve capital cut
Shareholders of troubled central European low-cost airline SkyEurope, which sought court protection from creditors last month, yesterday approved a major share capital cut from EUR 42.796 million to EUR 6.584 million. SkyEurope head Nick Manoudakis told shareholders on Tuesday that the company was in talks with two or three potential investors and intended to announce the name of the buyer in the next few days.
most Czech press

Huge cross-shipment point planned in Česká Třebová
Construction of one of the country’s biggest container shipping points is likely to start in Česká Třebová next year. The centre, which would employ as many as 550 people, would mainly serve rail transport. Česká Třebová mayor Jaroslav Zedník said the city would disclose the name of the investor behind the deal only once a contract on the land sale was signed.

German growth forecast give Czechs hope
The German economy, the key market for Czech exporters, could record new growth as soon as next year, following the record decrease in GDP that is predicted for 2009, Wolfgang Franz of  Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) said on Tuesday.

Ministry wants 10-year contract with Czech Railways
The Transport Ministry will propose that the government enter a ten-year contract with state-run Czech Railways, according to Ministry spokesman Karel Hanzelka. The Ministry claimed, however, that the move would not affect its plan to open up 75% of railway market to competition within the ten years.
ČTK, HN 16

Czech firms still seek out tax havens
The number of Czech companies with headquarters in areas known for their relaxed tax rules rose by 154 in the first half of 2009 to 9,144, the information agency Čekia has announced. Nevertheless, this was a substantial decline from results last year when 740 more local firms relocated to these tax havens.

Forecasters predict drop in grain output
The Czech Statistical Office expects national grain production to decline by 11.7% to 6.62 million tonnes this year, while rapeseed output will probably fall by 5% to 997,000 tonnes. The decreases are expected because of a reduction in planting sites, poor weather conditions and particularly strong results last year. The news site Tý reported that the Agrarian Chamber expected grains output to fall by as much as 15%.

Intos staff protest job cut measures
Almost 150 peoples held demonstrations on Tuesday against the way that the agricultural tool maker Intos had chosen to shut down its local plant and move production to Austria. The employees are asking for a different system of severance pays and a chance to be kept on by Intos. Intos head Tomáš Babka said the firm would dismiss 157 employees and retain 13 people.
ČTK, Právo 11

Insurers crack down on overdue debts
Insurance companies are now pursuing debts more energetically because of a decline in the market, according to the head of MBA Finance debt collection agency. Marek Zeman of AXA confirmed that the larger insurers were especially ready to take cases to court. Kooperativa and Uniqa confirmed a sharp rise in debt claims.
E15 1, 8

Pleskot to rebuild Vítkovice gas tank
Vítkovice company is planning to construct a congress centre in Ostrava for 1,500 people with a multi-functional space inside an almost 100-year-old former gas tank. Vítkovice wants to revive all areas of its historical grounds, which are situated in the town centre. The  congress centre will be designed by the architect Josef Pleskot, famous for buildings around Prague Castle. The project should be ready in two years and the cost will probably reach CZK 250 million, the majority of which should come from EU funds.
HN 1, 14-15

Frustrated car dealers launch own scrapping discounts
The Czech branches of Citroen and Hyundai have stopped waiting for government subsidies and launched their own CZK 30,000 discount for customers wishing to dispose of their old car and buy a new one. Large Czech used-car dealers had already begun offering such incentives this spring.
ČTK, Právo 15

Czech car registrations down in H1
Registration of LUVs and passenger cars fell by 12.39% to 90,100 in the first half of 2009. A new bill enabling VAT discounts on all new passenger car registrations caused an annual decrease in new Light Utility Vehicles (LUV) registrations by 59.36% to 12,872 units in the first half of 2009. The overall sharp decline was due to changes in the registration of many N1 passenger cars, cars with a grid separating the front seats from the back of the vehicle.
LN 17

Prague City Hall plans new sportsground
Prague City Hall is planning to build a recreational site called U Čeňku on 78 hectares located between Dolní Počernice and Černý Most. City Hall wants to turn what is now mostly farmland into dozens of sports grounds while preserving natural park areas around the Martiňák pond. The investment should reach CZK 200 million, with construction due to start next year and much of the construction ready in 2012.
E15 9

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