NEWS
Report: Czech Roma most discriminated against in EU
The latest report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 64% of Roma living in the Czech Republic had faced at least some discrimination in the past 12 months, the highest percentage in the EU. Meantime, fire-fighters confirmed that a fire last weekend at a house in Vítkov where a Roma family lived was set intentionally and spread from three sources.
Právo 1, 2, ČTK

Strong demand seen for energy-saving subsidies
The Environment Ministry and the State Environment Fund say there’s been strong demand so far for subsidies the government is offering to install energy-saving boilers and insulation. Some 1,500 building companies have applied for certification for the project and more applications are coming in. The plan hopes to distribute CZK 25bn in subsidies to 2012.
most Czech press

Tycoon’s ex-wife granted record alimony
A court has ordered billionaire Radovan Vítek to pay his ex-wife CZK 3 million in back alimony. Vítek claims his official monthly income is only CZK 25,000, but the court said he had transferred assets worth some CZK 40 billion to his mother.
HN 4

Czech unit in Afghanistan criticised
The work of a small Special Operations Group of the Czech Military Police in Afghanistan was adversely affected by poor personal relations between soldiers and a weak command, according to a preliminary report by Defence Ministry inspectors.
most Czech press

North Moravian govt OKs dam project
The regional government in Moravia-Silesia has given the green light to a CZK 8 billion project to build a dam in Nové Heřmínovy in the Bruntál area.
ČTK

Liberálové.cz drafts new euthanasia bill
The non-parliamentary party Liberálové.cz yesterday presented another draft bill to legalise euthanasia. Under the bill, doctors could only assist a terminally ill patient to commit suicide at the patient’s own request.
ČTK

Court rules on business licence requirements
The legal requirement that holders of Czech business licences can have no serious criminal record violates the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, the Constitutional Court ruled yesterday without taking any action against the clause.
HN 15

Czech cardiologists among best in the world
Top Czech heart surgeons are at work at many of the world’s most prestigious hospitals, including London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Herzzenter in Leipzig and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where US presidents and Arab sheiks get treatment.
HN 4

First Czech woman to have solo exhibition at Tate Modern
The curator of London’s Tate Modern gallery, Catherine Wood, has offered to exhibit Czech artist Kateřina Šedá, best known for her nonconformist social projects. Šedá is free to decide on the topic for her exhibition, which should take place in the autumn or next year. Šedá said she was thinking of the issue of the baby boom and that she would like to deal with it in a non-infantile way.
HN 1, 10

BUSINESS
ČEZ recoups a third of its foreign investment since 2005
The Czech energy giant ČEZ has received a total of CZK 9.7 billion in net earnings from its foreign subsidiaries since 2005, around a third of the CZK 31 billion it spent to buy those companies.
HN 13,14

IMF lowers Czech GDP forecast
An International Monetary Fund report released yesterday predicts the Czech economy will contract by 3.5% this year, worse than the 1.3% fall in GDP that the IMF had predicted earlier. The IMF also said the state budget deficit would reach CZK 200 billion, exceeding the previous record of CZK 109 billion in 2003.
most Czech press

ČS downgrades value of real estate fund portfolio
Česká spořitelna group has downgraded the value of its real estate fund as of today by one fifth to CZK 800 million, lowering its value for investors by 14%. Tomáš Trčka, the fund’s general director, said he expects the real estate market to pick up in 2010 or 2011.
E15 1, 8, HN 19

Lukoil management negotiating in Prague
The Russian oil company Lukoil, which is according to some sources, considering buying shares in Česká rafinérská, has today called an adivsory board in Prague. Czech MP Miloslav Vlček will also take part in the meeting. The board is to discuss the company’s strategic development and international activities.
E15 10

Industry group calls for euro, investment
The Czech Confederation of Industry yesterday reiterated its calls on the cabinet, parliament and political parties to set a firm date for euro adoption and to significantly boost investment in innovations, research, education and infrastructure.
ČTK

Czech operators say SMS price regulations harmful
Czech phone operators said the EU’s practice of regulating SMS prices hurts the market and that firms gradually reduce prices on their own. Vodafone spokesman Miroslav Čepický said such regulations hamper the competitive environment.
HN 15

Ministry awards CZK 570m in contracts without tender
The Ministry of Agriculture has awarded two last-minute contracts worth CZK 570 million to Telefónica O2 without going through a public bidding process. The ministry said the nature of the contracts allowed for a closed negotiation since only one supplier could fulfil all of the conditions. Independent analysts and some politicians disagree.
MfD B1, B3

Czech mortgage rates drop in March
The average mortgage rate in March dropped by 0.25 percentage points to 5.5%, according to the Fincentrum Hypoindex.
most Czech press

Credit card market growing 20% yearly
MasterCard says Czechs last year used credit cards in only 6.7% of all card payments, but the volume of transactions was 20% more than a year earlier and is likely to grow at the same pace in the coming years.
ČTK, E15 8

Globus will sell insurance in supermarkets
The hypermarket chain Globus will be the first retailer in the Czech Republic to also sell household, car and travel insurance, in cooperation with insurer Allianz.
HN 16

MEPs rule to unbundle energy sector
The European Parliament yesterday approved a directive under which EU member states will have to separate the ownership of electricity producers and transmission grids. In the Czech Republic, the producer ČEZ and the grid are both state-owned and will have to be run by different ministries.
ČTK

Czech travel agencies struggling
Czech travel agencies have sold 10% fewer package tours. Companies have started offering last-minute deals in an effort to attract customers. Because of economic uncertainty, Czechs are postponing buying summer holiday packages, waiting for last-minute deals.
HN 13

Raiffeisenbank ČR announces dividends
Czech bank Raiffeisenbank will pay dividends totalling CZK 435 million and retain the rest of its CZK 1.4 billion net profit.
ČTK

Factoring market down 35% in Q1
Czech factoring providers in the first quarter of 2009 bought receivables worth CZK 21.3 billion, 35% less than a year earlier.
ČTK