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Breakfast Brief – 19 February 2009

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Lower house passes Lisbon Treaty

The lower house yesterday approved the Lisbon Treaty after a year of debate and four unsuccessful votes, with 125 MPs in favour and 61 opposed. In reaction to this decision, a spokesman for President Václav Klaus said he hoped the Senate would be more responsible. The upper house will vote on the treaty in April at the earliest. The head of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, told ČTK that if Klaus refused to sign, the court might have to decide if it has the right to compel him.

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Klaus signs medical fees amendment

President Václav Klaus yesterday signed into law an amendment cancelling compulsory medical fees for children under the age of 18 and lowering maximum medical payments for those over 65 from CZK 5,000 to CZK 2,500.


Liberec unable to cope with snow

Liberec officials yesterday announced a snow emergency, saying they could not clear all the roads. The situation should not affect the Nordic World Ski Championships that started there yesterday and will last until 1 March.

most Czech press

EU flag at Letná damaged again

Prague police say vandals Tuesday damaged the EU flag at Letná by disfiguring it with a symbol of a banned movement. Police did not specify which symbol.

LN 6

Abbas likely to visit Prague Monday

ČTK cites unofficial sources as reporting that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to visit Prague on Monday and will meet with President Václav Klaus. The castle has not yet confirmed the visit. Abbas earlier postponed a visit to the country, the current EU president, scheduled for 2 February.


CVVM: ČSSD would win elections

A February CVVM poll shows that if parliamentary elections were held now, ČSSD would win with 38.5% of the votes. ODS would place second, with 29%, and KSČM would come third, with 15.5%.


Plzeň bans nationalist march

A Plzeň district town hall yesterday banned the march of far-right supporters planned for Saturday. Jan Čapek said he wanted to organise the march to protest the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. According to police, Čapek is a member of a skinhead group with connections to the far-right organisation Národní odpor.


Bailiffs call for leader to resign

A group of 38 bailiffs yesterday demanded the resignation of the head of the Chamber of Bailiffs, Juraj Podkonický, and the rest of the leadership for failing to put together a central registry. Podkonický is to comment on the situation at a press conference today.



Mortgage volumes falling

Czech banks in January provided mortgages worth CZK 4.6 billion, compared with CZK 8.2 billion in the same month last year, a drop of 44%, said. “The public is waiting for the interest rates and real estate prices to fall”, said Petra Horáková-Krištofová from the association of mortgage brokers (AHM). The average interest rate on all mortgages rose to 5.74% in January from December’s 5.69%.

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Number of tourists falling

The Czech Statistical Office reports the number of tourists visiting the Czech Republic last year fell by 1% from the previous year to under 13 million. The number of people visiting Prague rose 2.5% to 4.6 million, with foreigners accounting for about 52% of the overall number.

HN 17, E15 10

Shares on PSE down 28% this year

The main PX index on the Prague Stock Exchange fell 3.5% yesterday, its seventh declining session in a row. Since the beginning of 2009, the index has lost 28%. Analysts say foreign investors are leaving exchanges in central and eastern Europe because they are concerned that the recession will strike here hardest. Andrea Ferancová from Wood & Company told that growth could resume in a month or a year.

HN 1, 15

Komerční banka’s 2008 net profit rises 18%

Komerční banka’s net profit increased 18% to CZK 13.2 billion last year. The bank reported strong growth in the first three quarters that offset slower-than-expected growth in the last three months of 2008.

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Parliament postpones bill on VAT write-offs

The lower house has delayed a decision on a bill that would allow companies to write off VAT payments when they buy cars. The bill is aimed at boosting new car sales. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek criticised the decision as a “crime against the Czech economy”, saying it would have a negative impact on the economy and the car industry.

HN 18, LN 12

EC praises Czech crisis package

The European Commission yesterday praised a Czech government package of measures adopted in reaction to the economic crisis. The EC said it considered the package to be well-timed and focused on the sectors that will be affected most. The EC predicted the Czech economy will start to pick up gradually in the next year, though it is unlikely to return to the fast growth it recorded before the crisis.

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Crown strengthens slightly against euro

The Czech crown yesterday managed to strengthen slightly against the euro to CZK 28.83/euro. It traded at CZK 23.05/dollar, according to Patria Finance. The vice-governor of the ČNB, Miroslav Singer, suggested that due to the crown’s recent weakness, the central bank would consider raising interest rates.


Hyundai presents new HED 6 model

Hyundai yesterday presented its new HED 6 model at its Nošovice car plant. The car, the successor to the SUV Tucson, will be Hyundai’s main attraction at the upcoming auto show in Geneva and will be produced at Kia Motors’ plant in Žilina, Slovakia. Hyundai also introduced an environmentally friendly version of i30 model that will be made in Nošovice.

ČTK, HN 16, Právo 5

ČEZ hydropower production increases

Small ČEZ hydropower plants produced some 212.3 GWh of electricity last year, about 4.5 million kWh more than in 2007, covering the annual energy consumption of more than 60,000 households. ČEZ operates some 21 hydro-electric power plants, of which 20 are considered to be small.


Česká naftařská to sue MND

The owner of Česká naftařská, Petr Lamich, is preparing to file a lawsuit against Karel Komárek, the owner of Moravské naftové doly (MND), in a dispute concerning a two-kilometre stretch of natural gas pipeline that connects MND’s gas sources in Břeclav to the gas network and runs across land owned by Česká naftařská. The companies disagree on the price for carrying the gas through the pipeline.

HN 15, 19

ČEZ could announce Temelín tender this year

The energy giant ČEZ is considering issuing a tender worth CZK 2-3 billion to expand the Temelín nuclear power plant before a study on its environmental impact is finished. E15 reports that ČEZ might call for bids as soon as this year. The company neither confirmed nor denied the report. ČEZ wants to launch construction of two new units in 2013.

E15 1, 8

Shopping centre development to slow

A record 20 shopping centres opened in the Czech Republic last year, raising the total to 290, according to an Incoma Research survey. Experts say expansion will slow this year because of the economic crisis. The ECE Projektmanagement company has suspended construction of the Galerie Liberec shopping centre because of a dispute with a Dutch company, Multi Development, building another shopping centre across the street.


ČD calls tender worth CZK 1.6bn

Czech Railways (ČD) has called for bids to modernise dozens of railcars and add access for disabled persons. The modernisation will cost CZK 1.6 billion and a winner is to be announced in May.


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