NEWS
House will not let foreigners own homes
MPs on Friday voted down an amendment abolishing a clause that has so far banned foreigners from buying flats and residential houses in the Czech Republic. Finance Minister Eduard Janota called the vote “ridiculous”, saying the clause has been illegal under EU law since May 2009 and that the country is now facing a penalty worth EUR 1,000 per day for non-compliance.
Právo 3 Sat

New party will push ‘blob’ national library
Blob, a new political party launched this past weekend, will bid for seats in the lower house in the autumn with a pledge to push construction of a new National Library building according to a shelved design by the late Czech-British architect Jan Kaplický. Representatives of several smaller political parties, meantime, met yesterday to discuss possibly backing a unified list of candidates in the October elections under the name Občanské fórum 09.
LN 6, MfD A2

Klaus: Deal for Ireland modifies Lisbon
In an interview for Czech Radio and Právo, Václav Klaus said the additional legal guarantees granted by the EU to Ireland constitute a modification of the Lisbon Treaty and as such require parliamentary ratification. Czech PM Jan Fischer has rejected the claim.
most Czech press

Poll shows ČSSD, ODS deadlocked ahead of vote
If general elections took place now, the Civic Democrats and Social Democrats would each win 79 of 200 seats, with some 28% of the vote each, a STEM survey shows. The only other parties that would gain representation would be the Communists (31 seats) and Christian Democrats (11 seats).
Právo 1, 2 Sat, MfD A2 Sat

MPs pass anti-crime deal with US
The lower house on Friday approved a Czech-US agreement on cooperating in fighting serious crime, required by the US in exchange for visa-free travel. Communist MPs had argued that the safety of Czechs’ personal data would be compromised.
ČTK

Liška replaces Bursík as Greens leader
Deputy party chairman Ondřej Liška has been chosen to replace Martin Bursík as head of the Greens ahead of the autumn’s general elections. Bursík over the weekend resigned as leader of the party, following its failure to win seats at the European Parliament.
ČTK

Ex-CEO gets jail for bank embezzlement
The Prague High court on Friday handed a four-year jail term and a fine worth CZK 1 million to Antonín Moravec, former CEO at the now defunct bank Kreditní a průmyslová banka. Moravec in 1992 lent CZK 191 million to his own company knowing that he would not be able to pay it back.
ČTK

Top 09 rules out coalition with ČSSD
Karel Schwarzenberg said in a Lidové noviny interview that the new party, Top 09, which he is leading, will not enter into a coalition with Jiří Paroubek’s Social Democrats after the autumn’s general elections. The prince and former foreign minister also said financier Zdeněk Bakala had offered his support to Top 09.
LN 1, 3, 11 Sat, Právo 2 Sat

Seventh swine flu case in ČR
A Prague hospital has diagnosed a 28-year-old woman with swine flue, the seventh case in the country. All of the Czech patients contracted the virus in the US.
MfD A4 Sat

KDU-ČSL denies links with ČSSD
New Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda on Friday denied that his party had established close pre-election links with the Social Democrats, as suggested by ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek on Wednesday.
ČTK

Students protest against unified leaving exams
Some 7,000 high school students protested in Prague on Friday against the unified state leaving exams and demanded a two-year postponement. Students threw tomatoes at the Lichtenstein Palace, used by the cabinet for representative purposes, mistaking it for the Education Ministry seated in a neighbouring street. Students met with Education Minister Miroslava Kopicová, who promised to put together an information package about the exams. The exams are to be tested in October.
most Saturday press

BUSINESS
ArcelorMittal asks state for financial help
Lakshmi Mittal, owner of the ArcelorMittal steelworks, has asked the Czech government for financial help worth millions of crowns. The money would be used to pay salaries for those employees staying at home since the company is currently operating at just 35% capacity.
MfD A1, B

AXA plans to open bank in ČR
French-based company AXA, which offers pension funds, insurance and investment fund services in the Czech Republic, is planning to open a local bank to provide the company’s products and services to a wider public. Cyrille de Montgolfier, the head of AXA Group for central and eastern Europe, said the new bank would not focus on lending as a priority.
E15 1, 8

Bill boosts blanket cost deductions
An amendment passed by MPs on Friday would increase blanket cost deductions for small businesses and self-employed. Farmers and craftsmen will deduct 80% of their gross income instead of 60% today; others will deduct 60%. Finance Minister Eduard Janota opposes the bill, saying it will cost state coffers CZK 2 billion per year.
Právo 3 Sat, MfD A 9 Sat

Topolánek calls nukes ‘renewable energy’
Civic Democratic leader and former PM Mirek Topolánek told a conference in Vienna on Friday that the Czech Republic had no alternative to nuclear energy. He called nukes “the only efficient renewable source” that also helps limit the country’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
ČTK

Czech Post to accept bank cards
Czech Post is putting together a system that will enable it to accept bank cards for all payments including by postal money order (složenka). Card payments would be charged a fee.
E15 1, 10, 16-17

Student Agency sees pre-tax profit triple
Brno-based Student Agency reported audited consolidated results in 2008 showing profit of CZK 27.5 million before tax, almost three times the amount of 2007. Student Agency head Radim Jančura said the company would now shift its focus away from revenue growth and more toward making profit.
HN 20

Investors eye bankrupt glassworks
So far 13 investors have shown interest in buying the bankrupt glassworks Crystalex Nový Bor. The firm’s owner, glass and ceramics group BCT-Porcela Plus, has cut more than 80% of its 7,000 jobs since entering bankruptcy in September.
ČTK

Govt lists roads facing funding freeze
The Transport Ministry has launched a statement listing 190 road projects, including motorway extensions and bypass roads, that will have to be suspended due to a lack of public funding. The list includes 40 projects that are already being built.
ČTK

Čedok catches Exim in sales
Revenue at Čedok, the second-largest Czech travel agency, was CZK 3.8 billion last year, CZK 0.5bn more than in 2007 and roughly as much as market leader Exim Tours.
ČTK

ČKD trying to void Škodaexport sale
ČKD Group, which last year bought Škodaexport from the state for CZK 210 million, now wants the government to take the firm back, claiming it did not know about some of the firm’s contracts at the time of the privatisation. Škodaexport, recently renamed PA Export, is a major machinery trader and entered administration last year.
ČTK

Union chief warns of welfare abuse
After his re-election as leader of the industrial trade union association KOVO, Josef Středula told reporters that some employers are abusing social benefits. He said some 4,000 workers across the country have been fired and hired back as part-time temps while drawing unemployment benefits.
ČTK