NEWS
Three plead guilty in Vítkov attack
Three of four men accused in an arson attack earlier this year on a Romani family in Vítkov have pleaded guilty to the accusations. The four are currently being represented by court-appointed attorneys, but an ultra-right group led by Filip Vávra is collecting money to hire a lawyer for them. Reports say police have a tape of the attack. Vávra said if this proves to be valid evidence, his group would drop any help to the accused.
Source: most Czech press

CVVM poll: ČSSD would win elections
The latest poll by CVVM shows the Social Democrats would win the October early elections, with 33% of the vote, ahead of the Civic Democratic Party with 31%. The Communists, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL would also exceed the 5% threshold needed to get into the lower house.
Source: most Czech press

Ministry to send out tuition questionnaires
The Education Ministry will launch a survey among 56,000 university students next week to find out what are the costs of education, how young people finance their studies and what is their opinion on tuition fees, among other things, Petr Matějů from the ministry said on Wednesday. Based on the survey results, which should be available in November, the ministry wants to come up with a law on financial aid for students.
Source: ČTK

ODS senators seeking delay in Lisbon ratification
ODS Senator Jiří Oberfalzer told Právo yesterday that a group of ODS senators will send a request to the Constitutional Court to amend Czech law, in a move that could delay ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The change would require a mandate that the Czech government would never transfer authority to Brussels without a three-fifths majority in both chambers. The head of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Jan Hamáček, said he regarded the move as a “useless obstruction”.
Source: Právo 4

Expulsion of diplomats known since spring
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told Právo yesterday the recent deportation of two Russian diplomats allegedly working for Russian intelligence was planned in the spring, but for strategic purposes, the government had to wait until the EU presidency ended. The reason for expulsions remains unconfirmed by officials.
Source: Právo 1, 2

ČSSD to lure voters with free transport
In two regions controlled by ČSSD, Central and Northern Bohemia, the party has promised students free bus transport to school come September. The bus companies are expected to benefit the most from the offer, since it will be impossible to trace the number of students making use of the perk, allowing the companies to bill for an unlimited number of tickets.
Source: HN 1,4

Minister to postpone rehearsal for unified school-leaving exams
The Education Ministry will put off a planned October rehearsal for introducing unified secondary school leaving exams, Czech Television reported on Wednesday. If MPs decide to delay the new system by one year, the ministry will put off the rehearsal until October 2010; if the lower house fails to agree on a delay of a year, the rehearsal would take place in January next year.
Source: ČTK

Dalai Lama to visit ČR
The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will deliver a speech at a 10-11 September Prague conference on democracy and human rights in Asia. The conference is organised by the foundation Forum 2000, co-founded by former Czech president Václav Havel.
Source: ČTK

Havel to attend Pope speech
The Prague Castle administration has invited former president Václav Havel to Pope Benedict XVI’s speech in Prague on September 26. A private meeting has not been scheduled, though it remains a possibility.
Source: HN 5

Unions say planned cuts in education will reduce teachers’ wages
If cuts in the Education Ministry budget are as big as expected, teachers’ wages could fall by as much as CZK 1,500 a month, union leader František Dobšík said. Union members are planning a petition against the budget cuts and will call on Education Minister Miroslava Kopicová to find more money for her ministry. The average monthly wage in education is CZK 23,968.
Source: Právo 2, ČTK

Dangerous intersections to be reconstructed
The Road and Motorway Directorate and the engineering company City Plan have begun a plan to map out and redesign dangerous intersections around the country, which would then be rebuilt to reduce the number of accidents. So far 10 such crossroads have been identified in the Central Bohemian region.
Source: LN 1, 3

BUSINESS
Air France-KLM pulls out of bidding for Czech Airlines
Air France-KLM said on Wednesday it was withdrawing from bidding to buy Czech Airlines because of the unfavourable impact the economic situation is having on air transport. The Finance Ministry said it would go ahead with the privatisation and extended the deadline to submit bids from mid-September to 30 September. Only the consortium of Unimex and Travel Service remains in the second round of the tender.
Source: most Czech press

Mortgages drop by 50%
The total volume of mortgage loans that banks provided to households fell to CZK 6 billion in July from CZK 12.2 billion a year ago, according to the Fincentrum Hypoindex indicator that comprises data from nine domestic banks.
Source: most Czech press

Home starts fall by a fifth
New home starts in the ČR in the second quarter dropped by 21.2% year-on-year to 9,736 units. The aggregate value of new construction orders dropped by nearly a fifth on the year to CZK 49.6 billion, the Czech Statistical Office said on Wednesday.
Source: most Czech press

NWR reports CZK 1.1bn loss in H1
Mining company New World Resources sustained a EUR 41.44 million (CZK 1.1bn) loss in the first half of the year after a EUR 189 million profit a year earlier. Sales dropped by roughly half to EUR 484 million.
Source: most Czech press

Paroubek: Budget gap could be below ministry’s forecast
Next year’s state budget deficit could range between CZK 170 billion and CZK 180 billion, or 5% of GDP, thanks to savings and an increase in some revenue, such as taxes and dividends from energy group ČEZ, ČSSD chairman Jiří Paroubek said on Wednesday. He said the Finance Ministry’s planned budget gap of CZK 230 billion was exaggerated.
Source: most Czech press

ČSA pilots complain to PM about management
In an open letter to Prime Minister Jan Fischer, Czech Airlines (ČSA) pilots accused ČSA management of seeking a deliberate liquidation of the national air carrier and said they fear social unrest inside the company. The pilots complained about planned asset sales and job cuts in the state-run company and asked the PM to deal with the situation. The news site Euro.cz reported that former PM Mirek Topolánek called on Finance Minister Eduard Janota to remove ČSA president Radomír Lašák from his post.
Source: ČTK, Euro.cz

Transparency International: Public sector loses CZK 9bn in profits by privatising water utilities
The Czech public sector has lost profits worth up to CZK 9 billion by privatising water management companies, according to a Transparency International study released Wednesday. Moreover, the study says existing contracts with private operators make it harder for municipalities to access European Union subsidies.
Source: ČTK

Construction output falls 4.8% in H1
Czech construction output in constant prices decreased by 4.8% year-on-year in the first half of 2009, the Czech Statistical Office said on Wednesday.
Source: ČTK

Hyundai Czech plant to extend production
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech will switch to a two-shift operation on 7 September in response to strong demand for its i30 cars and to the planned launch of serial production of the Kia Venga, spokesman Petr Vaněk said.
Source: Právo 15

Travellers suing Sunny Days over delays, bad service
Customers of the Sunny Days travel agency who were delayed on a recent return flight from Djerba and who had to wait two days at Prague Airport for a flight to the Tunisian holiday spot are planning to sue the company for damages if compensation is not offered. One group said there was no food or water on the return flight to Prague; a second group said no accommodation was offered during the delays. Sunny Days management said the company has problems with organisation but not financing.
Source: most Czech press