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Breakfast Brief – 20 February 2009

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Heckles, cheers for Klaus at EP

Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels Thursday, President Václav Klaus compared the EU to a totalitarian regime, drawing both heckles and applause. Some MEPs left the room in protest. Most politicians, including Czech PM Mirek Topolánek said they were not surprised by Klaus’s speech.

most Czech press

HN: Prague could get second Michelin star

An unnamed source close to France’s Michelin Guide told Hospodářské noviny that Prague’s La Degustation restaurant is close to winning a Michelin star. La Degustation master chef Oldřich Sahajdák would become the first Czech cook to secure the coveted designation. Allegro, with Italian chef Andrea Accordi running the kitchen, last year became the first Czech restaurant to win the Michelin designation.

HN 1, 5

First batch of laid-off foreigners return home

Sixteen Mongolians who were laid off from jobs in the Czech Republic returned to their homeland Thursday, the first group to take advantage of the government’s offer of free airfare and bonus of CZK 500 for fired guest workers. Within 30 days the country wants to launch strict controls of foreigners, checking their legal status and levying stricter sanctions on illegals.

most Czech press

Attorney dismissed for commenting on Čunek’s case

Liberec state attorney Adam Bašný was fired yesterday for criticising authorities’ handling of KDU-ČSL leader Jiří Čunek’s case. Jiří Křivanec, Ústí nad Labem regional state attorney, said Bašný did not work on the case and thus should not comment on it. Bašný called the Čunek probe a travesty of justice, citing meetings between judges and the top prosecutor on the case. Liberec judges and the Union of State Attorneys backed Bašný, saying no prosecutor can be punished for voicing his opinion.

HN 2

PM calls for Liberec ski tourney probe

PM Mirek Topolánek is calling for an investigation into how Liberec prepared ski areas for the ongoing Nordic Skiing World Championships. Topolánek maintained the former ČSSD-led government is largely responsible for the mistakes. The Supreme Audit Office filed a criminal complaint earlier this month alleging fraud and other offences in connection with the event.

Právo 2

Army police: Fuel theft worth CZK 28.5m

Military police have uncovered a much larger fuel-theft operation than previously believed at Prague Airport. Several people were accused in 2007 of stealing CZK 800,000 worth of kerosene, but police now say some 1.5 million litres worth CZK 28.5 million was taken from supplies designated for presidential aircraft, and that dozens of army employees could be involved.

HN 3

Bill to limit information on ID cards advances

A measure to preclude addresses and personal ID numbers from appearing on new Czech ID cards passed its first reading in the Chamber of Deputies Thursday.


Horáková prosecutor seeks delay of jail term

Communist-era state prosecutor Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, who took part in the 1950 show trial and execution of opposition politician Milada Horáková, filed a complaint this week seeking to overturn a court order that she begin her prison term, Aktuálně.cz reported Thursday. Brožová-Polednová, 87, who was convicted of judicial murder, is seeking a delay in her imprisonment, citing health reasons.


Litvínov to deduct debts from welfare cheques

The town of Litvínov wants debt collectors to subtract money directly from debtor’s welfare payments, Deputy Mayor Martin Klika announced Thursday.



Crown gains, prognoses improve

US bank Goldman Sachs yesterday abandoned its January forecast that the crown would fall below CZK 32 to the euro by mid-year. The crown closed yesterday at CZK 28.79/EUR. The currency’s gains boosted the Prague bourse, which grew by 4.5% yesterday after seven days of continuous decline. Česká spořitelna yesterday estimated the crown will reach CZK 25.10/EUR to euro by the end of year.

most Czech press

Loan volume dropping, revival seen unlikely soon

The volume of Czech mortgages fell from CZK 185 billion in 2007 to CZK 152.5 billion last year, according to Czech National Bank figures. Petr Kučera, head of loan registry CCB, said people are worried about their jobs and thus thinking twice about taking on new debt. Cyrrus analyst Marek Hatlapatka said a revival in the loan market might not happen this year. Despite central bank rate cuts, none of the country’s major banks is planning to lower the interest rates this quarter of the year.

most Czech press

Ott: Orco must change strategy, cut projects

Jean Francois Ott, president of developer Orco Property Group, said the company needs to change strategy and reduce its project load. Orco has laid off 220 employees and could fire more, and shares in the firm, which cost CZK 1,700 a year ago, were selling for CZK 146 yesterday. Ott said Orco will no longer begin work on any project that is not at least half pre-sold or -rented. Central Group and Skanska confirmed that they consider buying some Orco projects.

HN 15, 18, MfD A9

ČEZ cuts electricity supplies to Moravia Energo

ČEZ has stopped supplying electricity to Moravia Energy, one of the country’s key electricity providers, claiming Moravia has failed to pay for daily deliveries.

most Czech press

PPF mulls Zentiva sell-off

PPF Group and Generali PPF Holding are discussing selling their shares in Czech drugs maker Zentiva to French firm Sanofi-Aventis. The PPF companies own a combined 24.3% stake in Zentiva, while Sanofi-Aventis holds 24.9%.

most Czech press

Wizz sets sights on top budget spot at Prague Airport

Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air is trying to push Slovakia’s SkyEurope from its position at the top of the table for discount carriers serving Prague Airport. SkyEurope served 1.1 million passengers in Prague last year, more than a third of the total for budget airlines. The discounters’ share of the airport’s market has grown from less than 10% in 2003 to 23% in 2008.


ČR to get more from EU for gas storage

The EU wants to give the Czech Republic EUR 10 million more than initially pledged by the European Commission for the expansion of its gas storage facilities. The Czechs could receive up to EUR 35 million under the new plan.

Právo 19,

Právo: EU Commission did not praise crisis package

Právo, citing unnamed Brussels sources, reports that contrary to Czech media accounts yesterday, the European Commission did not express approval for the Czech government’s anti-crisis package. According to Právo, it was the government’s euro adoption programme that won commission praise.

Právo 3

Klaus: ČR gains from being off euro

Czech President Václav Klaus said in Brussels Thursday that, given the economic crisis, it is an advantage for the Czech Republic that it is not part of the eurozone.


Kalousek: Sub-CZK 100bn deficit if no growth

If the Czech Republic has zero economic growth this year, the state budget deficit should remain under CZK 100 billion, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said Thursday.


Czech provider causes massive internet collapse

Czech internet service provider SuproNet inadvertently caused an internet outage in much of Europe and several countries earlier this week, tech site reported. SuproNet improperly set up a link with its back-up provider of transit connections, causing service to be suspended for about an hour to networks in western Europe, especially Belgium and Spain; some new EU member states, including Latvia; and parts of the US, China, Pakistan and Egypt. The Czech Republic was not affected.


Survey: Viewers tired of TV ads

According to a January survey carried out by Factum Invenio, 83% of TV Nova viewers feel they are watching too many commercials. The figure was 77% for Prima TV watchers and 46% for state-owned Czech Television.

LN 16

Poll: Quarter of Czechs content with income

More than 25% of Czechs are satisfied with their net monthly salary, while about a third are not, according to a Median survey. Some 10% of the 7,687 respondents reported having no regular income, while about one-third earned between CZK 8,001 and CZK 15,000.


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