NEWS

Topolánek: Presidential election was manipulated

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said yesterday that he has proof last year’s presidential balloting was manipulated. Topolánek claimed the election was masterminded by ex-counterintelligence chief Karel Randák and Petr Dimun, chief marketer for ČSSD, and said he would present his evidence at a closed door meeting of the lower house. President Václav Klaus said he will not comment on the matter.

most Czech press

Opposition: PM should quit over Wolf case

Opposition parties ČSSD and KSČM yesterday called on the lower house to seek Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s resignation over alleged government attempts to manipulate Czech Television coverage of MP Petr Wolf’s legal troubles.

MfD A1, A2, E15 2, ČTK

Slow courts cost ministry millions

The Justice Ministry paid out CZK 47.5 million in compensation last year for delays in legal proceedings. The number of unfinished cases fell by 10% in 2008, and proceedings should continue to speed up with increased use of electronic forms and small teams of qualified judges’ assistants.

LN 1, 4

Minister/rocker to play at rally against neo-Nazis

Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb will perform with his band Pražský výběr II in Ústí nad Labem 15 April as part of a campaign against far-right extremists. Neo-Nazis have scheduled a march in Ústí 18 April, two days before the anniversary of Hitler’s birth. Organisers say the march is in remembrance of a 1945 air raid. The city’s mayor has filed suit seeking to ban the march.

HN 4

Villages oppose Vodochody airport construction

Financial group Penta’s plan to build the country’s second largest airport Vodochody could be delayed by protests from surrounding villages, which fear a sharp increase in traffic. Penta wants to launch operations at the airport in three years.

HN 4

MPs criticise press video ban

Several MPs from across the political spectrum are voicing opposition to a ban on videotaping outside the parliamentary press centre and want the committee that introduced the ban to cancel it. MPs Věra Jakubková and Olga Zubová, formerly of the Greens, issued a statement demanding a revocation, and ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek also opposes the restriction.

ČTK

Opposition resists recognition of dissidents

Opposition MPs yesterday tried unsuccessfully to block discussion of a Senate proposal to grant surviving members of the anti-communist resistance the status of war veterans. The measure was introduced in the Senate a year ago but is only now coming up for lower house consideration.

ČTK

Šojdrová wants Ministry for Family

KDU-ČSL MP Michaela Šojdrová is calling for establishment of a new ministry to handle family issues. The proposed agency is part of a new family policy Šojdrová, a candidate for party leader, will present today.

ČTK

Ruthenian Czechs might get compensation

The Chamber of Deputies yesterday passed on second reading legislation to compensate Czechs forced to leave their property in Carpathian Ruthenia during World War II. The proposal, which now goes to a final vote, would provide damages of up to CZK 2 million to those who can prove that they lost property.

ČTK

BUSINESS

Demand for flats down, further decline forecast

Sales of mortgages fell by one-third in February year-on-year, and the average price dropped more than 6% to CZK 2.12 million in the past six months. A study by Deloitte and Hyposervis anticipates sales will revert to 2006 levels, and prices of new flats could decline another 5%-15%. Deloitte auditor Diana Rogerová pinned the drop on last year’s VAT increase.

most Czech press

PM: No CEE-wide crisis package

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told E15 that the Czech Republic will reject any proposal for a specific financial crisis plan for central and eastern Europe. He said Europe should not be divided into blocs and any such plan might trigger panic on the markets. Crisis plans will be on the agenda at the EU summit starting today in Brussels.

E15 1, 4

MPs back longer deregulation, easier flat exchange

Legislation to extend the period of rent deregulation by two years to 2012 passed the lower house on first reading yesterday. MPs also supported a proposal to simplify flat exchanges, under which tenants could exchange flats with the owners’ approval.

LN 11, Právo 18, ČTK

State ČEZ sale on hold until price recovers

Deputy Finance Minister Ivan Fuksa told Hospodářské noviny the state will resume selling ČEZ shares only after they reach at least CZK 1,250 on the stock market. The cabinet endorsed a plan in 2007 to sell the state’s 7% stake in the energy giant to cover a gap in the transport fund; it has since sold 4.6%.

HN 13, 14, 15

Court: Svoboda trading not criminal

Prague City Court ruled yesterday that ČEZ Finance Director Alan Svoboda misused insider information in his private dealings but his actions did not rise to the level of a crime. The court said Svoboda’s use of company data did not affect the profit he made. Svoboda bought ČEZ shares twice in spring 2005, shortly before the company published important information about its financial situation; he sold the shares two months later, reaping CZK 1.6 million.

HN 1, 2

Crown down, ČNB likely to hold rates

The Czech crown fell 1.7% to CZK 27.03 against the euro yesterday. Banking analysts predicted the weak crown will prompt the Czech National Bank leave the basic interest rate at the current 1.75% at its meeting next week.

HN 19

Scrap bonuses benefit foreign Škoda sales

Škoda Auto announced increased sales last month in countries offering people bonuses for scrapping older cars. The biggest increase was in Germany; sales also rose in Austria, Italy and France also report higher numbers. The most in-demand Škoda in Germany was the Fabia, with sales of 9,190 in February, second only to the VW Golf.

ČTK

Nošovice Hyundai plant boosting workforce

South Korean automaker Hyundai will launch a second shift at its plant in Nošovice, opened last autumn. The factory has hired some 150 people since the beginning of March and currently employees about 1,900.

ČTK

Lower house shoots down fuel tax cut

MPs yesterday rejected a ČSSD proposal to lower the fuel consumer tax. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek described the measure as “monstrous populism”.

ČTK

Japan to sign emissions contract 30 March

Environment Minister Martin Bursík said yesterday the Czech-Japanese contract on sale of emission credits will be signed 30 March in Prague. Bursík, returning from a trip to Japan and the US, said the deal would bring the country CZK 10 billion this year.

ČTK

State increasees waste clean-up deals

The volume of state guarantees for clean-up of old ecological damage grew to CZK 160 billion at the end of 2008, up from CZK 158 billion in 2007. The Finance Ministry closed deals worth CZK 172.8 billion between 1991 and 2008.

ČTK

Zentiva ups stake in Turkish Eczacibasi

Turkish pharmaceutical company Eczacibasi Ilac will sell 25% stakes in two of its subsidiaries to Czech drugs maker Zentiva, Reuters reported yesterday. The Czech firm bought a 75% share in Eczacibasi Generic Pharmaceuticals two years ago.

ČTK

Regulators likely to OK Agropol-Agrofert union

The anti-monopoly office is expected to green-light a merger between Andrej Babiš’s Agrofert holding and Agropol, owned by Jiří Malúš. A final decision will be announced next week.

ČTK

ČTK: Chodov porcelain factory has new owner

Bankrupt porcelain factory Karlovarský porcelán (KP) in Chodov near Sokolov has been acquired by Dalovice-based Epiag Lofida-Porcelán CZ. KP insolvency administrator Tomáš Čermín would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Právo 5, ČTK