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Breakfast Brief – 23 September 2009

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Table of Contents

Interior Ministry fined for visa delays
This year, the Interior Ministry paid out CZK 200,000 in indemnities to dozens of Vietnamese citizens for failing to process visa requests on time, estimates Marek Sedlák, an attorney who has acted on the behalf of many foreigners in court disputes against the ministry. HN reports that hundreds of foreigners have filed complaints against the ministry.
Source: HN 5

Parties reveal candidates for European commissioner
Although the prime minister should officially select the European commissioner by 29 October, Jan Fischer left the decision to politicians. KDU-ČSL proposed its vice-chairman, Pavel Svoboda; the ČSSD backed Jan Švejnar and the current commissioner, Vladimír Špidla; and the ODS swings between Jan Zahradil and Alexandr Vondra, who also has TOP 09’s vote.
Source: most Czech press

Cabinet riff as Janota says vaccines undermine austerity package
The government will allow insurances to draw from the state budget for pneumonia inoculations as part of the savings package. Finance Minister Eduard Janota told HN yesterday that he had no idea about the proposal that Health Minister Dana Jurásková pushed through and that would cost the state CZK 200 million a year. While the ODS and TOP 09 said they would vote for the package, the ČSSD, KSČM and, now, KDU-ČSL oppose cuts to family benefits.
Source: most Czech press

Anticrisis measures distrusted by 77% of population
A study by Ipsos Tambor for Zlatá koruna and Mladá fronta Dnes shows that over three-fourths of the public believes that politicians merely discuss solutions to the crisis without proposing actual beneficial results. People over 45 years are most sceptical.
Source: ČTK

Klaus accuses Washington Times of misquoting him
President Václav Klaus demanded an apology from the rightwing daily for allegedly twisting his statement from the UN summit on climate change in New York. The daily corrected its previously published quote of Klaus saying that he now lived “in a much more regulated society than before the fall of Communism” to him living “in a much more regulated, controlled society than [he] expected 20 years ago, in the moment of the fall of communism”.
Source: HN 6

Paroubek: Topolánek should block senators’ complaint against Lisbon
ČSSD chairman Jiří Paroubek said that ODS chief Mirek Topolánek should prevent ODS senators from filing a constitutional complaint against the Lisbon Treaty; otherwise, the Czech Republic will not have a European commissioner.
Source: ČTK

Website to bring politicians and citizens closer
The Změň (change the politics) web portal, which allows visitors to comment, blog and discuss current affairs, was launched yesterday. Test-run users included Jiří Paroubek (ČSSD) and Ondřej Liška (SZ), the project’s head, Marek Jehlička, said.
Source: ČTK

TOP 09 backs anticrisis austerity package
According to Miroslav Kalousek, the former finance minister and founder of TOP 09, the proposed savings package to curb the 2010 budget deficit is the only way to overcome the current turndown.
Source: ČTK

Plzeň law faculty loses 35 dissertations
The Education, Youth and Sport Ministry’s Accreditation Commission will demand 35 dissertation works from the Law faculty of the University of West Bohemia, which are reportedly missing, including the work of the former Deputy Czech Police President Jan Brázda, who has completed his master’s at the faculty in only a year, Lidové noviny reported. University rector Josef Průša also said he will have the matter investigated.
Source: LN 1, 2

Exhibit narrates fates of children saved by Nicolas Winton
As part of the Winton Train – Inspiration by Goodness project, the National Museum yesterday opened a photography exhibition that depicts the possessions that the Jewish children took to London in 1939, when the British stockbroker saved them from the Nazis.
Source: ČTK

Poll: Public trusts radio, TV and army
According to a September study by the Public Opinion Research Centre, 67% of the population has faith in information received via radio, and 62% believes in the army and the news that comes from the television. Conversely, only 36% trusts unions and 28% churches.
Source: ČTK

Elder organisations predict worsened conditions for pensioners
Institutions advocating the rights of the aged worry that the government’s decision to not valorise old-age pensions next year will aggravate living conditions for retirees who will not likely be able to pay off growing rent prices and healthcare costs. The Labour Ministry opposes the statement.
Source: ČTK

Nine ultra-rightists face charges for racist recordings
Czech Television reported yesterday that courts began a probe into the case of racist statements recorded on computers confiscated by the police as part of an investigation into the attempted murder of a youth in Strakonice. Nine extremists face up to five years in prison each.
Source: ČTK

Brno hospital employs larva therapy
After sealing deals with insurance companies in September, Brno’s Milosrdných Bratří hospital has begun making use of larvae to remove scar tissue.
Source: ČTK

Antimonopoly office approves logistic merger
The antimonopoly office has approved the merger of the transport giant OKD Doprava, owned by Zdeněk Bakala, and Čechofracht, a leader on the Czech market, after several months without any objection. The cost of the merger was not disclosed by either party; however, experts estimate the price at CZK 7 billion.
Source: HN 22, Právo 20

Sazka cuts and delays money to support sport and culture associations
The biggest domestic lottery and betting company has cut its subsidies to some athletic associations, including the Olympic committee, as well as its help to arts projects. Hospodářské noviny reports that the reason behind the cuts and lagging payments is the continuing loan Sazka has to pay off for the construction of its hall in the Vysočany neighbourhood – now the O2 Arena.
Source: HN 1, 17

Tatra teams with Navistar Defence
The car manufacturer Tatra will supply the US maker of army vehicles Navistar Defense with chassis and axles for the new line of military trucks to be sold in North America. Noting that the deal should boost sales and lower expenses, Tatra head Ronald Adams called the deal “the most important contract during Tatra’s 20 years of existence”, and added that it will allow his company to purchase vehicle components from Navistar’s global network of suppliers.
Source: HN 17, 21

Czech bank fees rank 7th in the EU
A study by the European Commission shows that Czech banks boast the seventh-highest fees in the European Union. Czechs pay an average of EUR 95 a year in charges per bank account. Italy ranked first, with EUR 253 a year, and Bulgaria last, with just EUR 27 annually.
Source: ČTK

Farmers’ revenues expected to drop by CZK 20 billion
According to estimates by the Agricultural Association, revenues will drop by CZK 20 billion this year due to a fall in milk and grain prices. The drop represents 17% of last 2008’s overall income.
Source: ČTK

Liquor producers: Black market rising
Major Czech liquor producers have reported a rising black market in the last six months, mainly in pubs and restaurants, where it is easier to avoid the compulsory stamp affixed to alcohol and tobacco and, thus, the excise tax. Stock Spirit Group CEO Neil Everitt said that the liquor is usually sold in canisters on the black market and bottles are filled from these. He also doubted that politicians would be willing to solve the situation until after the elections are held.
Source: HN 20

Energy sector short of 15,000 workers
Participants of the seminar on human resources in energetics organised by the Senate have concluded that the field lacks 15,000 employees, which could in the future affect the running of power and heating plants. The Senate’s Deputy Chairwoman, Alena Gajdůšková, noted that without the knowhow of new technologies, the country will fall behind Europe.
Source: ČTK

Benzina: Diesel to account for 60% of sales
The sale of diesel fuel at Benzina gas stations will account for at least three-fifths of the company’s overall sales this year, compared to just one-half three years ago, the company’s quality director, Václav Loula, said yesterday.
Source: ČTK

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