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Czech News in English » News » Breakfast Brief » Breakfast Brief - 16 February 2009

Breakfast Brief – 16 February 2009

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NEWS

Police: Hot plate caused Industrial Palace blaze

The fire which damaged the left wing of the Art Nouveau Industrial Palace in Prague’s Holešovice district last October was caused by a switched-on hot plate in one of the stalls of the Pragodent dental trade fair, police said. The blaze caused an estimated CZK 1 billion in damage.

most Czech press Sat

Záhrobská wins silver at alpine worlds

Czech skier Šárka Záhrobská took the silver medal in the women’s slalom at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Val D’Isère on Saturday. Záhrobská, who won the event in 2007, finished second to Germany’s Maria Riesch.

most Czech press

ÚOHS joins ski championship probe

Czech antimonopoly office (ÚOHS) head Martin Pecina said the agency will launch an investigation next month into the financing of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, which begin Wednesday in Liberec. The Supreme Audit Office announced last week that it had filed a lawsuit alleging fraud in the organisation of the event.

LN 1, 3 Sat, Právo 7 Sat

ODS posts anti-ČSSD website

The Civic Democrats (ODS) Friday launched a website, cssdprotivam.cz (ČSSD against you), mocking the opposition Social Democrats ahead of June’s European Parliament elections. “Other parties, the Social Democrats in particular, do not shun these methods. Their election campaign is nothing but a negative crusade,” said Jan Zahradil, head of the ODS EP list. ČSSD launched its EP campaign on Saturday.

most Czech press

North Moravia avalanche kills one

An 18-year-old snowboarder suffered multiple injuries in a rare Jeseníky avalanche on Friday and died in the ambulance.

most Czech press Sat

Czech Roma turn to Obama for help

The Romani association Roma Realia last week handed the US Embassy in Prague a letter to US President Barack Obama complaining about the situation of Roma in Czech society and rising Czech nationalism.

ČTK

Klaus signs controversial wire tap bill

On Friday President Václav Klaus signed into law an amendment banning the publication of information obtained from police wire taps Journalists had urged Klaus to veto the bill, saying it undermined press freedom.

ČTK, iDnes.cz

Poll: ODS gains, ČSSD still 10-point up

According to a STEM poll, voter support for the Social Democrats dropped 35% in February from 38% three months earlier, while the senior ruling Civic Democrats went from 22% to 25%.

Právo 1, 2 Sat

Klaus aide to head new conservative party

The new right-wing Strana svobodných občanů (Free Citizens’ Party) elected its founder, Petr Mach, as its first chairman. Mach is an aide to President Václav Klaus, whose son Jan also joined the new group. Some deputy chairs are former ODS members. The party hopes to attract dissatisfied ODS voters by pushing tax cuts and opposing the Lisbon Treaty.

MfD A5, ČTK

Bursík to fly to Antartica

About two dozens European politicians, including Czech Environment Minister Martin Bursík, have been invited by Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim to take part in an excursion to the Norwegian Antarctic research station Troll next week to learn more about research on the development and impact of climate change.

LN 1, 2 Sat

BUSINESS

NERV, FinMin agree on crisis plan

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek and the National Economic Council (NERV) agreed yesterday on measures to tackle the financial crisis. Hospodářské noviny reports the government will spend CZK 40.5 billion on the plan this year. The package proposes lower social insurance payments and quicker tax deductions for cars and computers. It does not include several ideas that had been publicly discussed, including cash payments for new car owners, a lower VAT for restaurant services and legalisation of the “Švarc system” of using independent entrepreneurs in place of full-time employees. The cabinet will vote on the proposal tomorrow.

most Czech press

Czech GDP shows signs of recession

The Czech economy last year grew by 3.5%, down from 5.9% in 2007, according to estimates by the Czech Statistical Office. In the final quarter GDP was 1% higher year-on-year but 0.6% lower than in the third quarter, the first contraction in 10 years. Analysts say the Czech economy will enter recession soon. In the last quarter German GDP shrank by 2.1% and both the EU and the eurozone lost 1.5%.

most Czech press

Car prices at historic low

Relative to average income, new car prices have reached their lowest point in the history of the Czech Republic. Along with the economic downturn, the upcoming Geneva auto show is a factor, as dealers seem to sell off old models before the event turns public attention to newer versions. A new Škoda Octavia currently costs 13 average monthly salaries; when the model hit the market 13 years ago, it cost three years’ pay. Ford’s Martin Linhart said most makes are selling for historic lows but the situation might not last.

HN 1, 17-20

Big companies paying small firms late

Hospodářské noviny reports that many large firms are extending the period for paying off suppliers, which as a result often have to pay VAT tax on money they haven’t yet received. The payment period has been extended from the standard 30 days to up to 90 days by pharmaceutical company Zentiva and to 180 days by Telefónica O2. Attorney Michal Hrnčíř of the law firm Ambruz & Dark said such moves could constitute abuse of power and violate laws protecting business competition.

HN 13

HN: PPF, J&T reach merger agreement

Multiple unnamed sources cited by Hospodářské noviny says financial group PPF has reached an agreement on acquiring a stake in J&T group. The pact is expected to follow outlines previously reported, with PPF and J&T each holding 40% of shares and the current J&T partner Daniel Křetínský getting the other 20%. Both companies refused to comment.

HN 13

ČSSD files bill to bar airport sale

The Social Democrats have submitted a draft bill under which Prague Airport would have to remain in state hands.

Právo 4 Sat

Kalousek: Reforms slow crunch in ČR

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Saturday that last year’s reforms have stabilised public finance and helped soften the impact of the global downturn. He was reacting to a statement by Social Democrat Deputy Chairman Bohuslav Sobotka, who said the reforms were the cause of the Czech economic slowdown.

ČTK

Govt helping guest workers get home

Starting today, sacked guest workers from non-EU countries can ask Czech authorities for a subsidised flight back home and a EUR 500 bonus. The programme is designed to prevent redundant foreigners from staying in the country illegally.

ČTK

State boosts ČEZ stake

The government’s share in ČEZ jumped from 63% to almost 70% Thursday after the power giant cut its share capital by CZK 5.4 billion to just under CZK 54 billion.

HN 14, ČTK

PKN Orlen replaces Czech unit CEO

François Vleugels resigned Friday as the CEO of Czech petrochemical group Unipetrol, a subsidiary of Poland’s PKN Orlen. He was replaced by Krzysztof Urbanowicz.

HN 14

Třinec steel output at 80%

The second-largest Czech steel producer, Třinecké železárny, is using only 80% of its production capacity due to low demand. The company will have cut 550 jobs by the end of February.

ČTK

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