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Breakfast Brief – 18 February 2009

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Lower house expected to ratify Lisbon today

The lower house is expected to ratify the Lisbon Treaty today after failing to reach agreement on the treaty yesterday. A constitutional majority of 120 votes is needed for passage, and the treaty now has the support of 126 MPs. Both ODS and ČSSD leaders have called on members to support the treaty. If approved by the lower house, the document then goes to the Senate.

most Czech press

Preparations underway for Klaus’s visit to Brussels

Czech President Václav Klaus will have to listen to the EU’s anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which he apparently hates from an ideological as well as musical standpoint, when he arrives in Brussels on Thursday. According to unofficial information, the eurosceptic Klaus is not preparing to give any inflammatory speeches.

HN 2, LN 2

Police officer charged with collecting millions in bribes

Karlovy Vary Foreign Police Inspector Radek Kocáb has been accused of collecting more than CZK 7 million in bribes for helping some 300 foreigners get permanent residency. The prosecution lacks witnesses who saw Kocáb take the bribes, but an unidentified Vietnamese witness told the court yesterday he had to pay CZK 90,000 to get permanent residency.

HN 3

Topolánek: If we can’t agree, crisis will be worse

PM Mirek Topolánek urged European politicians yesterday to agree on how best to deal with the global economic crisis. He said that without agreement, the crisis would be worse. He called on countries to return as quickly as possible to maintaining budgetary discipline and urged members to “fend off the scarecrow of protectionism”.

ČTK, Právo 10

World’s best chef to open restaurant in Beroun

Marc Veyrat, a French chef whose restaurant La Maison has won three Michelin stars, wants to open a restaurant near Beroun. Veyrat said he wants to get rid of his existing restaurants and open two new ones. He said he would use local mushrooms in dishes served at the Beroun-based restaurant.

HN 1, 5

Rath to get CZK 100,000 for slap

The High Court in Prague ruled yesterday that David Rath, former health minister and current Central Bohemia governor, is entitled to CZK 100,000 from former ODS deputy head Miroslav Macek, who slapped him at a conference of dentists in 2006. Macek at the time said he was “defending his wife’s honour”. More than 200,000 people have seen the slap on You Tube.

most Czech press

Road authorities plan to chop down 15,000 trees

The Czech environmental inspectorate says traffic authorities plan to cut down some 15,000 roadside trees this year to reduce the number of fatal accidents. The inspectorate says it will investigate the matter.

most Czech press


ČEZ to provide free electricity to unemployed

Energy giant ČEZ has published a set of measures for dealing with the economic downturn called “ČEZ against the crisis” in which the company pledges to provide free electricity to unemployed workers who register with the employment office after 1 March 2009. ČEZ CEO Martin Roman also confirmed that electricity prices will fall in 2010. The company will provide more information next week.

most Czech press

ČR will be first country with ‘new’ Tesco

British retail group Tesco yesterday announced plans to install new interiors and new brands in their shops. The Czech Republic will be the first country to host the company’s new supermarket brand, My’, when it opens in two weeks in Liberec. Tesco plans to introduce the brand worldwide at the end of February. The food stores will retain the Tesco name and will offer gourmet specialties and a wine corner.

MfD B2

PSE has lost billions this year

Stocks traded on the Prague Stock Exchange have already lost some CZK 237 billion in value this year and the main PX index has fallen 25%. The index yesterday dropped 6.8%, the 7th worst trading day in PSE history. The fall was caused by a Moody’s statement that suggested it might lower ratings of banks operating in eastern Europe. The situation is likely to affect the Czech crown, which could fall further below CZK 30 per euro, Jan Vejmělek from Komerční banka said.

most Czech press

Leasing volumes tumble in 2008

The volume of leased cars and other movables last year dropped 27% to CZK 95.5 billion, after the sector grew 15% in 2007, according to figures from the ČLFA association of leasing providers. It was the largest drop since records started in 1991.


Ministers boost funds for panelák upgrades

The cabinet yesterday voted to increase this year’s budget of the Panel programme from CZK 3.5 billion to CZK 4.1 billion. The money will help modernise and insulate prefab as well as brick-built housing.


Shipping lines ask billions in compensation

Four shipping lines are suing the state for CZK 2.1 billion in compensation for poor conditions on the Elbe river. Another five companies are likely to sue in April, asking for an additional CZK 100 million. According to the law, the Elbe should be accessible to ships with a 2.5-metre draught, but only ships with a maximum draught of 1.8 metres can currently sail the river.

E15 4, 5

Austria will keep labour restrictions through 2011

Two senior members of the Austrian cabinet yesterday reiterated that their country will not fully open its labour market to workers from post-communist EU member states before 2011.


Sales of flats are falling

Jaroslav Novotný, the head of the real estate association (ARK), says it now takes 6-12 months to sell a flat, up from an average of 3-4 months last year. According to Evžen Korec, the director of Ekospol, only flats that offer a combination of good price, high-quality materials and good location have a chance of selling. Experts say the prices of flats have fallen by an average of 7% in the past six months.

HN 1, 23-26

Experts: Banks, firms face higher fraud risk due to crisis

Security experts, speaking at a conference yesterday, said the economic crisis and increased lay-offs will expose banks and firms to a higher risk of theft and fraud. The number of bribes and leaks of sensitive information could rise as well. Petr Lédl of Raiffeisenbank said his bank is preparing several projects to discourage theft and robberies.

HN 20

Orco confirms CFO Leroi stepped down

The real estate company Orco Property Group confirmed yesterday the resignation of group CFO Luc Leroi, while company vice president for corporate finance, Arnaud Bricout, resigned last week. Senior Vice President Aleš Votruba has been appointed head of Orco Praha, according to Hospodářské noviny.

HN 29, MfD B1

Wages at Škoda set to rise this year

The management at carmaker Škoda Auto yesterday agreed with the union to increase wages 3% from April and by another 1.8% from October. The average non-managerial monthly salary at Škoda is around CZK 24,000.

ČTK, Právo 5

Services, retail sales decline in late 2008

The Czech Statistical Office says seasonally adjusted revenue in services declined by 2.1% in the last quarter of 2008; whole-year revenue was up 1%. Retail sales were up 0.5% for the whole year, but down 2.9% in December.

ČTK, Právo 18

Natural gas group criticises Prague over diesel buses

The Czech Gas Union has criticised a decision to buy 700 new city buses for Prague, most of which will burn diesel and none will use compressed natural gas (CNG). The group says CNG could cut fuel costs by half.


MPs pass EUR 200m loan for Latvia

The Chamber of Deputies yesterday approved a bond issue worth EUR 200 million that the country will in turn lend to Latvia for seven years without charging interest.


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