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Breakfast Brief – 16 April 2009

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Table of Contents

Paroubek names some new ministers
ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek yesterday announced the names of seven new members of the cabinet after meeting with Prime Minister Jan Fischer. The new members include Jan Kohout, foreign minister and deputy prime minister; Štefan Füle, minister for European affairs; Martin Pecina, interior minister; Ivo Pěgřímek, industry and trade minister; Jakub Šebesta, agriculture minister; Rostislav Vondruška, regional development minister; and Petr Šimerka, labour and social affairs minister.
most Czech press

Kalousek says will not stay in cabinet
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek yesterday rejected speculation he would stay in the new caretaker government led by Jan Fischer. Kalousek said he would only consider the post if both outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and new PM Jan Fischer asked him to stay. Topolánek told Czech Television he will not ask Kalousek to stay.
most Czech press

Bursík afraid Klaus could complicate climate talks
Green Party leader and Environment Minister Martin Bursík has voiced concern that President Václav Klaus could complicate EU talks on climate change. Bursík said the situation could be saved if the talks are led by the prime minister and cabinet members instead of Klaus.

Hospitals in central Bohemia to issue CZK 30 pharmacy vouchers
Central Bohemian councillors yesterday approved a measure to allow pharmacies in regional hospitals to issue CZK 30 discount vouchers to customers. Central Bohemian Governor David Rath proposed the voucher idea to circumvent an earlier court ruling that bans the region from directly covering patients’ mandatory CZK 30 medical fees. The vouchers will be paid by regional hospitals, which in turn are subsidised by the region.
MfD C1, C2,, Právo 5

Office affirms limits on publishing crime victim data
The head of the Office for Personal Data Protection (ÚOOÚ), Igor Němec, said yesterday that personal information on crime victims could only be made public in exceptional cases where such information demonstrably serves the general interest. The office has published its own interpretation of a new law that came into force this month that forbids the publication of personal data of crime victims as well as information gained through wiretaps.

Survey: 46% of households affected by crisis
A survey conducted by GfK for Lidové noviny shows the economic crisis has affected 46% of households, with 14% reporting a significant drop in income and 32% reporting some decrease in the past six months. Hardest hit are people living in north Bohemia.
LN 1, 15

Polls: ČSSD still ahead of ODS in voter preferences
ČSSD would win elections if they were held in April, according to the results of two voter-preference polls. The latest STEM poll shows ČSSD with an eight-percentage-point lead on ODS, unchanged from March. The latest CVVM poll shows ČSSD with a 9.5-percentage-point lead, with ODS receiving 28% of the votes and ČSSD 37.5%.Právo 2, LN 3

Extremists plan May Day march through Brno
Some 1,000 far-right extremists from the Workers’ Party and National Resistance are planning to march through Brno on 1 May. Police say they will monitor the situation, and city officials are prepared to cancel the event if participants break the law.

ČEZ, E.ON offer white goods discounts; ÚOHS investigates
ČEZ yesterday launched a programme to provide a CZK 1,000 subsidy to customers who buy new low-energy white goods, including fridges, freezers and washing machines. The subsidies are valid at Datart and Euronics shops until 15 June. E.ON is to start offering CZK 500 discounts on new Whirlpool white goods in mid-May. The anti-monopoly office (ÚOHS) has begun an investigation into the ČEZ plan amid concern the company is abusing its monopoly position.
most Czech press

DPP calls tender for Dejvice-Motol metro line
The Prague Public Transport Company (DPP) has announced a CZK 13 billion tender for extending the A metro line from Dejvice to Motol. Construction of the six-kilometre track should start in December and finish in 2014. Metrostav, which has built all of the metro segments since 1967, will apply, as will Hochtief and Skanska. The Dejvice-Motol line represents the first stage of a route that should link Prague Airport with the city centre by 2018.
E15 1, 8

Car-scrapping bonus to require registration
Hospodářské noviny has published details of the car-scrapping bonus plan put together by outgoing Industry Minister Martin Říman. Car buyers interested in the bonus would have to register at their municipality transport departments and pay a refundable fee of CZK 1,000. Those registered would have six months to scrap their old cars and buy new ones. People would receive the CZK 30,000 bonus after presenting a contract for the new car and confirmation the old car has been scrapped. The date for introducing the bonus has not been announced.
HN 1, 3

Security committee says Aeroflot weakest ČSA bidder
The chairman of Parliament’s security committee, František Bublan, said that Aeroflot is the weakest bidder for Czech Airlines from a security perspective. He made the comment yesterday after meeting with secret service representatives. He cited Aeroflot’s ownership structure and overall operational security.
HN 13, 16

Kalousek: Date on euro announcement postponed
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said an announcement on euro adoption, originally planned for 1 November, would be postponed due to early elections to be held in October. The Finance Ministry said the ČR last year failed to meet two of four Maastricht criteria necessary for euro adoption.
Právo 4, ČTK

State could get CZK 18.7 billion from ČEZ
The ČEZ board of directors is proposing raising the corporate dividend by CZK 10 a share to CZK 50. Altogether, the company would pay out CZK 26.6 billion and the majority owner, the state, would get CZK 18.7 billion. A general shareholders’ meeting to discuss the proposal will be held on 13 May., E15 12, Právo 7

Sklo Bohemia glassworks for sale
The Prague City Court yesterday ruled that the Sklo Bohemia glassworks in Světlá nad Sázavou are to be sold. The company stopped production in September and is now in bankruptcy proceedings. Interested buyers will be able to place bids on the company for 45 days after sale conditions are announced.

Average mortgage size leaps 80% since 2004
Hypoteční banka statistics show the average mortgage loan has risen almost 80% since 2004 to CZK 1.87 million at the end of last year. Mortgages in Prague and the surrounding area are 30% higher than the rest of the country. Jan Sadil, Hypoteční banka’s CEO, said the bigger mortgages correspond to higher property prices and that the average mortgage this year should approximate last year.

Study: car dealers mull closures
A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers of Czech car dealers carried out last year shows 10% of dealers are considering closing their businesses. Some 40% do not expect sales to rise in the next five years, and 70% say sales will not rise this year. HN reports that sales volumes this year are being maintained only because of massive discounting.
HN 13, 14

Chrenek seen merging with stronger health insurer
The boards of two health insurers, Agel and Hutnická zaměstnanecká pojišťovna (HZP), are meeting today with the topic widely expected to be the merger of the two companies. Agel is 100%-owned by Czech billionaire Tomáš Chrenek, who also holds a significant stake in HZP. To his current 65,000 clients at Agel, Chrenek would stand to gain an additional 365,000 clients from HZP.
HN 4, Právo 8

Czech Post to sell franchises to smaller towns
The Czech Post is launching a new project in smaller towns that foresees selling franchises to the towns’ authorities. The plan is seen as a way of preventing post office closures in towns that are not big enough to support a separate post office.
HN 13

Dairy Olma posts CZK 214m loss
Olomouc-based dairy producer Olma posted a loss of CZK 214 million in 2008, after reporting a net profit of CZK 25.6 million a year earlier. The firm blamed falling margins for the loss. Olma was acquired by Agrofert Holding earlier this year.

EU to return CZK 560 million to ČR
The EU will return CZK 560 million to the Czech Republic as part of last year’s EU budget surplus. The money will not go directly into the country’s coffers but will be deducted from Czech payments to the EU.
E15 4

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