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Breakfast Brief – 22 October 2009

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Table of Contents

Swedish PM backs Klaus’s Lisbon Treaty objections
Lidové noviny reported that Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told the media that he is working towards including President Václav Klaus’s opt-out of the Lisbon Treaty. He said that incorporating Klaus’s objection is the only way that the Czech Republic will ratify the treaty. MEPs blasted Klaus’ delaying of the ratification at yesterday’s meeting of the European Parliament.
Source: HN 5, LN 1,7

Cabinet to engage in missile-shield dialogue
Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Kohout said during a conference yesterday that the interim government will actively participate in talks about the future missile shield.
Source: ČTK, HN 1-3

Rightwing extremists protest police crackdown
About 200 extreme rightists demonstrated yesterday evening in front of government offices against nationwide house searches of adherents to their cause by the police organised-crime office (ÚOOZ). According to the extreme rightists’ legal representative, Kolja Kubíček, the crackdown was prompted by the regional council Brno-venkov, which initiated a similar police action in June.
Source: most Czech press

Police lose 1,400 officers so far in 2009; more expected to leave
According to the head of the police personnel section, Roman Fidler, another 400 officers are expected to leave their posts in October, totalling 1,800 quitting the force since January. ČTK reported that police officers are taking advantage of a leaving bonus that averaged CZK 9,467 last year, according to Interior Ministry statistics; the amount is due to change in 2010.
Source: ČTK

Fischer demands greater power for cabinet
Prime Minister Jan Fischer unveiled the interim government’s plans for the coming eight months, including privatising ČSA, wrapping up the ecological tender and selecting the country’s EU commissioner. Hospodářské noviny also reports that Fischer presented an anticorruption package and plans to draw up a new energy scheme. Finance Minister Eduard Janota’s second proposal for an austerity package was dropped.
Source: most Czech press

Labour Ministry tightens disability benefits criteria
Starting in January 2010, the eligibility criteria for disability bonuses will be stricter, Labour Ministry spokeswoman Štěpánka Filipiová said. According to the new legislation, those whose ability to work due to health reasons is impaired by 70%, according to the ministry’s system, will be eligible, compared with the current 66%. Partial disability bonuses will be paid to those whose work abilities have declined in two categories: 35% to 49% and 50% to 69%.
Source: ČTK

Bém suspected of lobbying for illicit project
Czech Television and reported yesterday that Prague Mayor Pavel Bém lobbied for the construction of a storage facility in Pardubice worth CZK 100 million built without proper documentation by a company co-owned by Bém’s friend Zbyněk Kareš. According to a witness, Bém called Pardubice Mayor Jaroslav Deml, pushing for legalisation of the project. Bém denies the accusations.
Source: MfD A1, A3, C1, C2

KSČM’s contribution to Horáková memorial sparks animosity
The Communist Party donated money for the construction of a memorial to Milada Horáková, an advocate of democracy sentenced to death in the 1950s under the communist regime. The Political Prisoners’ Confederation (KPV) deemed the contribution offensive, but the KSČM’s Miloslav Ransdorf said that the donation is intended as a “national appeasement”.
Source: ČTK

Poll: ČSSD ahead of ODS
According to a survey by CVVM, if elections were held early October, 32% of the public would vote for the ČSSD, 26% for the ODS, 15% for the KSČM, 14% for TOP 09 and 5.5% for the KDU-ČSL.
Source: ČTK, Právo 3

Registering users of pseudoephedrine-based meds illegal
The Personal Data Protection Office ruled that the registry of users of medicines containing pseudoephedrine run by the State Institute for Drug Control is unlawful, and ordered for sensitive information to be immediately deleted. From now on, patients can receive the medications without prescriptions and pharmacists will keep records for the pharmacies’ purposes.
Source: MfD A5, LN 4

TAL could be in the pipeline
An anonymous ČSSD MP told Hospodářské noviny that the cabinet will discuss acquiring a share of the Transalpine Pipeline (TAL), an oil conduit 16% owned by ExxonMobil, during US Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit. The Czech Republic has been considering a 3% share in the TAL to secure oil supplies due to the unreliability of the Druzhba pipeline. As a shareholder, the ČR would gain better conditions for oil transport, and no reservation payments would be required if the country suddenly needed to increase supply.
Source: HN 3

ČSA’s board of directors chairman demands higher wage cuts
The newly appointed chairman of the Czech Airlines board of directors, Miroslav Dvořák refused to sign an agreement yesterday to reduce pilots’ wages by 15%. According to ČTK, Dvořák seeks to decrease pilots’ wages by 30% and those of other employees’ by 15%, which would save the airline CZK 1.1 billion annually.
Source: HN 17, LN 13

Car manufactures increase production
TPCA, near Kolín, and Hyundai, in Nošovice, both of which produce small utility cars, are increasing production this year. TPCA is up 2%, to 330,000 cars, and Hyundai has made close to 160,000 and is also planning to hire 700 new employees for its second shift.
Source: HN 17

Dalkia to buy NWR Energy
The heat producer and supplier Dalkia will most likely take over the NWR Energy electric producer, distributor and seller, a ČEZ source said. NWR management announced earlier its intent to sell most of its electricity-producing assets and focus on the coal side of its business. Cyrrus’s Marek Hatlapatka estimated that the value of the transaction could reach CZK 1 billion. Dalkia is looking to sell its 15% minority stake at the same time.
Source: HN 17

ČD Cargo wants 56% of ČD Logistics shares
Czech Railways’ daughter company ČD Cargo would like to increase its shares within ČD Logistics from 34% to 56% by buying out Viamont’s share. The antimonopoly office has begun to investigate the transaction request.
Source: ČTK

Rohanský ostrov’s buyer to pay in instalments
Sekyra Group, which won the tender for 20 hectares at Prague’s Rohanský ostrov, is paying the CZK 1.7 billion in instalments. While Mayor Pavel Bém doesn’t regard this a problem, Sergei Borenstein, the head of REHG, another firm that participated in the tender, said that he would have offered a higher price if he had known that instalments would be possible.
Source: HN 1, 18

EU bus sales down by 17% year-on-year
Coach manufacturers reported a 17% annual fall in sales within the European Union in August, particularly in new member states, the head of Iveco ČR, Daniel Patka, said at a conference yesterday.
Source: ČTK

Telefónica O2 has installed 84% fewer landlines since 2005
Telefónica O2’s share on the landline market fell by 14 percentage points between 2005 and 2008, to 84%. UPC was the biggest alternative operator last year, with 6.2% of market share.
Source: ČTK

ČT predicts CZK 200 million drop in ad income
According to Czech Television spokesman Ladislav Sticha, the company expects a drop in income from ads of CZK 200 million this year due to the financial crisis. He estimates that ČT will bring in between CZK 510 million and CZK 530 million. The tax office in Prague also decided yesterday to return to ČT the CZK 300 million it had withheld due to suspicion of tax evasion from compulsory television-fee income earlier this year.
Source: ČTK, HN 4

Ethanol blend to enter fuel market in 2010
Petrol stations will offer the new E10 fuel composed of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline starting next year in order to fulfil EU directive that biological components should make up 10% of annual gas consumption by 2020. Regular gas containing 5% ethanol will remain on the market for another three years.
Source: HN 20

New mortgages hit three-year low
New mortgage loans fell by 38.4% year-on-year, to CZK 57 billion, in the first three quarters of 2009, the worst result in three years, according to the Fincentrum Hypoindex report published yesterday. Mortgage analysts agree that the reasons for such a drop are the fear of unemployment and expectations that real estate prices will dip even further.
Source: LN 1, 13, Právo 16, HN 20

Major breweries stop publishing statistics
Plzeňský Prazdroj, Pivovary Staropramen and Heineken have ceased to supply the Czech Beer and Malt Association with production statistics since August, fearing recourse by the antimonopoly office, the association’s chairman Jan Veselý said. The antimonopoly office announced that making the statistics public would not undermine competition.
Source: ČTK

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