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Breakfast Brief – 21 October 2009

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Table of Contents

EC considering visas for Canadian diplomats
The European Commission will recommend that EU member states introduce a visa duty for Canadian diplomats if that country fails by the end of the year to take steps leading to a simpler visa procedure for Czech citizens and if it does not set clear measures to resume visa-free relations with the Czech Republic, the commission announced in a report analysing the Czech-Canadian visa dispute and published yesterday.
Source: E15 3

Czech Republic drops on press freedom index
The country fell to 24th place when it comes to complying with the freedom of press, from No 16 last year, according to a report by the international organisation Reporters Without Borders.
Source: ČTK

MPs will pass budget in first reading
All political parties except the Communists have announced that they will support the basic parameters of next year’s state budget – meaning revenues, expenditures and the deficit – in the first reading, scheduled for today in the lower house. Money transfers geared toward social purposes should be covered in the second reading, with the KDU-ČSL planning to propose not to lower maternity leave benefits. The Communists and Social Democrats have announced that they will support the proposal.
Source: HN 1, 4, MfD B1, B2, ČTK

More universities allowed suspiciously short studies
The inspection that the Education Ministry launched after the recent scandal at the Plzeň Law Faculty has revealed several other cases of surprisingly brief legal-studies programmes in the country. However, ministry spokeswoman Kateřina Böhmová said yesterday that some of these discoveries might be the result of flaws during the inspection.
Source: most Czech press

Barroso: Appointing new EC depends on Czech ratification of Lisbon
Designating new European commissioners awaits President Václav Klaus’s signature on the Lisbon Treaty, EC President José Manuel Barroso said yesterday.
Source: ČTK

Congestion charge for Prague to be CZK 120
Hospodářské noviny got a hold of the Prague City Council’s CZK 30 million study on a fee for peak-hour driving. The study proposes that entering Prague costs CZK 120 on weekdays and be free of charge on weekends and national holidays, with the paid zone beginning at the inner circle of the city. The payment would be monitored by CCTV cameras, which would read the licence plate of the car and evaluate whether the owner shelled out for the toll. Congestion charges should be introduced in 2015.
Source: HN 1-3

ČSSD, KDU-ČSL protest Pospíšil’s candidacy
Both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats oppose former Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil’s being up for the post of dean at the Plzeň Law Faculty. KDU-ČSL leader Cyril Svoboda said that it would be better if someone from outside of the faculty were elected, and ČSSD Deputy Chair Lubomír Zaorálek criticised the fact that Pospíšil served in a cabinet that could have had suspicious ties to the faculty. Pospíšil said that he expected to be criticised, but called the allegations “absurd”.
Source: LN 1, 3

ODS, ČSSD insist on taxation of lawmakers’ bonuses
The strongest parliamentary parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) both demand that bonuses that the president, cabinet members, legislators and judges get in addition to their salaries should be subject to tax, Petr Tluchoř of the ODS and Bohuslav Sobotka of the ČSSD said yesterday. The Senate has returned the relevant proposal to the lower house.
Source: ČTK, E15 4-5

Document proves authenticity of Kundera’s police report
Lidové noviny reports that historians have discovered official paperwork from 1952 that validates the police report recording Milan Kundera’s participation in the arrest of agent Miroslav Dvořáček in 1950. Historian Petr Koura says that the document eliminates the possibility that the police report is a fraud written later on. He adds, however, that this document does not prove Kundera’s guilt, either. The document is a transcript of a lecture on the protection of the country against inner and outer enemies by deputy National Security Minister Jaroslav Jerman.
Source: LN 1, 2

MfD uncovers auction frauds
A Mladá fronta Dnes reporter took part in an investigation to uncover frauds in the auctions of the property of bankrupt companies. The reporter first contacted Luděk Voigt, who claims he can arrange to buy a pardon from the president. He then directed her to the entrepreneur Martin Jirkovský, who, offering property the reporter showed interest in, explained that he takes advantage of one particular bailiff, who blocks the auction at the last minute, enabling the sale of the property at a very low price to someone agreed upon in advance.
Source: MfD A1, A3

More swine flu vaccines for chronically ill people
Doctors will be able to inoculate more personnel important for the country’s operation and patients with long-term illnesses against the H1N1 virus than planned, Health Minister Dana Jurásková said yesterday. The Czech Republic ordered a million vaccines that can be applied in a single dose instead of two and will therefore suffice for about 10% of the population, according to the ministry.
Source: LN 5, ČTK

Compensation for delayed trains postponed
Passengers on Czech railways will be entitled to payment for late departures five years from now, in line with a bill that President Václav Klaus signed yesterday. The compensation is part of an EU directive, but the Czech Transport Ministry took advantage of the possibility to postpone its coming into force by five years.
Source: ČTK

Housing prices stop falling in Q3
Residential values increased by 0.5% in the July-to-September reporting period, compared with the previous three months, the Czech Statistical Office announced yesterday. Prices rose by 2.1% outside of Prague, but dropped by 1.4% in the capital city.
Source: most Czech press

Court orders ČEZ to disclose information
A breakthrough verdict decided that the state-run power giant ČEZ is not a private company that can withhold information as a trade secret, for example concerning its Temelín nuclear power station. The Supreme Administrative Court dealt with a complaint by the civic association V havarijní zóně jaderné elektrárny Temelín, which wants ČEZ to provide documents and analyses concerning the appropriateness of fuel supplied to Temelín by the company Westinghouse.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

New ČSA management expects profit in 2011
The incoming Czech Airlines (ČSA) board of directors will focus in particular on cost reduction and taking advantage of potential synergies with Airport Prague, according to a proposal for the long-term stabilisation of the company that new chairman Miroslav Dvořák prepared in co-operation with Deloitte and discussed by the supervisory board yesterday. A conservative prognosis, the programme predicts a CZK 3.2 billion loss this year, a more moderate drop next year and a profit in 2011.
Source: most Czech press

Almost 82,000 Czechs not paying third-party insurance
The Czech Insurers’ Bureau has asked 81,700 people to pay mandatory fees for their uninsured cars to a guarantee fund since the beginning of the year, when the payments were introduced, the bureau announced yesterday. The number of cars without third-party insurance has decreased by 30% on the year, and the number of accidents caused by uninsured cars has dropped by 20%.
Source:, HN 21, LN 14

Škoda launches Octavia production in Russia
Škoda Auto launched production of its Octavia model in Russia’s Kaluga yesterday in a joint plant with its German parent company, Volkswagen, where it had previously just assembled cars from imported components. Škoda and Volkswagen want to raise their staff numbers in Kaluga by roughly two-thirds.
Source: most Czech press

Christmas sales will offer more cheaper goods
Retailers such as Tesco and Sportisimo will promote a wider selection of discounted products during their holiday sales when compared to last year following 2009’s unsatisfying economic results, HN reports.
Source: HN 17

Quelle Česká Republika not affected by German closedown
The Czech division of the German mail-order clothing retailer Quelle announced that its services will not be affected by the bankruptcy of the parent company, Arcandor, or by the fact that the German Quelle division failed to find an investor and is closing down. Lidové noviny reports that the Czech branch continues to be in the black and thus should easily find an investor, naming the German competitor Otto as a potential buyer. However, Radek Bláha, of the Quelle Česká Republika marketing department, said that there are no talks about selling.
Source: LN 13, 16, HN 21

Sekyra revises Prague development plans
Owing to the economic crisis, the developer Sekyra Group has decided to reduce the extent of construction of housing and commercial space at Prague’s Rohanský island and the Žižkov and Smíchov railway stations. The company said yesterday that the market’s capacity to absorb new commercial and residential space is at an all-time low.
Source: ČTK, E15 10

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