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Czech News in English » News » Breakfast Brief » Breakfast Brief - 21 May 2009

Breakfast Brief – 21 May 2009

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Prague hosts EU-China summit
The EU-China summit started yesterday at Prague Castle. The summit was led by President Václav Klaus and European Commission President José Barroso. China was represented by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Klaus said that human rights would be part of the summit dialogue, though Wen said Brussels and Beijing should not interfere in each other’s internal affairs. Some 15 people demonstrated in front of the Chinese embassy against human rights abuses.
most Czech press

Czech TV will not broadcast racist NS ad
Czech Television head Jiří Janeček has decided the station will not broadcast a controversial election spot by the ultra-right National Party (NS) promising a “final solution to the gypsy question”. Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Minister for Human Rights Michael Kocáb yesterday said the ad violates the law since it would encourage hatred toward a particular group of people. Interior Minister Martin Pecina told he will “probably prepare a proposal to ban the party”.
most Czech press

Artists pose 12 questions to Klaus
A group of prominent artists led by David Černý, who disagree with the President Václav Klaus’s domestic and foreign policies, are planning to hand over 12 questions to the Office of the President later today. The artists are especially opposed to Klaus’s “making a pact with Russia”.
LN 2

ODS: ČSSD member’s son threw eggs at Paroubek
An incident in Plzeň on Saturday in which eggs were thrown at ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek was apparently led by the son of one of the party’s top members, according to an ODS press release. Paroubek earlier claimed it was the Civic Democrats who initiated the attack.
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Towns short of billions due to crisis
Czech municipalities saw tax revenue fall by some CZK 2 billion in the first quarter owing to the impact of the economic crisis. To offset the decline, which could reach as high as CZK 7 billion by the end of the year, authorities have halted construction projects and raised property taxes.
HN 1,4

Prague districts opposed to eliminating crosswalks
Several Prague districts are opposed to a recent Transport Ministry regulation to eliminate dozens of pedestrian crosswalks that came into force at the beginning of May. District authorities are afraid that pensioners who regularly used the crosswalks might not notice the change. Some 79 crossings around the city have already been eliminated.

Kalousek could co-operate with mayors’ association
The former finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, told that if he decides to establish a new political party it would be a centre-right party that would co-operate with the association of mayors and independent candidates (Starostové a nezávislí).

Research council asks cabinet not to cut science budget
The Research and Development Council has asked the cabinet not to reduce expenditures on science as was suggested by the Finance Ministry as part of the ministry’s austerity measures. The council said it was afraid of restricting research and development, which it considers important for stable economic growth.

Head of US Central Command to visit ČR
US General David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, will visit the Czech Republic tomorrow to meet with the Defence Minister Martin Barták and Czech army representatives. The chief of the general staff of the armed forces, Vlastimil Picek, said foreign missions will be on the agenda.

Poll: Czech managers comfortable with bribes
More than 40% of Czech managers say they tolerate offering and accepting bribes as part of doing business, compared with a European average of 25%, according to an Ernst & Young poll of 2,200 managers in 22 European countries. Czechs fared among the worst in the poll, followed by Russia and Turkey.
HN 1, 20, LN 19

Orco posts higher-than-expected quarterly loss
Orco Property Group posted a loss of EUR 45.7 million in the first quarter, which was higher than analysts had expected. Revenue rose 16.3% to EUR 54.8 million. The company has sold its Orco Property Management subsidiary to a US firm, TVO Global Partners. The size of the transaction was not disclosed.
most Czech press

Banks sell fewer mortgages; housing construction falls
Banks provided mortgage loans worth CZK 7.55 billion to Czech households in April, a year-on-year decline of 31.2% in a key month for property sales. The low demand for mortgages is affecting new construction. New home starts dropped 8.9% in the first quarter from a year ago to 8,721, the Czech Statistical Office said Wednesday.
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Siemens, UniCredit Bank to offer shares to employees
Czech employees of the German concern Siemens and UniCredit Bank will soon be able to buy shares in their respective parent companies at a 20% discount to the market on average. The offer is aimed at boosting loyalty among employees and comes at a time when shares prices have been depressed because of the financial crisis.
HN 15

Ekonom: ČR threatened with arbitration over e-toll
Swiss company Fela Management, a member of the Mytia consortium, is threatening to launch arbitration proceedings against the Czech state, demanding CZK 7 billion, the weekly Ekonom reported, referring to Fela’s partner Peter Adler. Mytia was excluded from a tender in 2005 to build and operate the e-toll system in the Czech Republic despite offering the lowest price.
HN 19

Czech Railways likely to continue operating high-speed trains
The finance and transport ministries are preparing to sign a 10-year contract with Czech Railways regarding the operation of high-speed train services. The owner of the transport company Student Agency, Radim Jančura, is considering filing a complaint with the EU Commission, saying such an agreement would exclude outside operators. Until now, the contract with Czech Railways has been renewed on an annual basis.
HN 18

ČR letting investment treaties lapse
The Finance Ministry has started the process of ending international agreements on investment security that can lead to arbitration suits costing billions of crowns. An agreement with Italy ran out at the end of April; Denmark is next. Zuzana Chocholová of the Finance Ministry said the ministry has approached all EU countries involved and that negotiations are continuing.

FinMin recommends tighter state budget
The Finance Ministry is proposing scaling down the state budget to avoid a deficit that Finance Minister Eduard Janota says could exceed CZK 200 billion. The ministry said it would continue with plans to launch a giant tender to clean up communist-era environmental damage. It’s also recommending continuing various privatisation projects.

Citibank appeals sale of Sklárny Bohemia
Citibank has filed an appeal to the High Court in Prague to try to stop the sale of the Poděbrady glassworks Sklárny Bohemia to Crystal Bohemia. The bank was one of the company’s biggest creditors.

Farmers expect smaller crop
The head of the Agricultural Association, Miroslav Jirovský, said this year’s crop will be smaller than last year as farmers use less fertilisers and pesticides because of the economic crisis. He said the EU is expecting a drop in grain output of 20 million tonnes, about 7% lower than last year.

ČS launches bank card payment in Kaufland
Česká spořitelna has launched a pilot operation in six Kaufland stores to allow customers to pay with bank cards. The programme will be expanded to the entire chain from July.

Karlovy Vary airport opens new terminal
The international airport in Karlovy Vary yesterday opened a new terminal. The terminal cost some CZK 98.1 million and will allow the airport to handle some 500,000 passengers a year. Last year, around 71,000 people passed through the airport.

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