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Breakfast Brief – 23 October 2009

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Table of Contents

First death to swine flu in ČR
The first person to have died of swine flu in the Czech Republic is a woman from the Karlovy Vary region, a Karlovy Vary hospital spokeswoman said yesterday. The woman, who had been hospitalised because of serious heart problems not connected with the flu, died yesterday. Reports so far indicate the victim was in her thirties. The National Institute of Public Health has not yet confirmed that swine flu led to her death.
Source: most Czech press

Biden in town to talk defence
Before arriving in Prague last night, US Vice President Joe Biden told Hospodářské noviny he is hoping that the Czech Republic’s leading role in the new US missile defence system will be among the issues discussed during his Prague visit.
Source: most Czech press

TOP 09: Reform constitution if Klaus rejects Lisbon
If President Václav Klaus does not sign the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the year, TOP 09 will present constitutional reforms to parliament enabling the treaty’s ratification, the party’s chair Karel Schwarzenberg said yesterday. Schwarzenberg did not elaborate on the bill.
Source: Právo 2

EU: Half Czech road construction useless
Of the 30 transport infrastructure projects currently under way in the Czech Republic, between 15-20 are unnecessary, according to new findings from an EU committee set to decide on the redistribution of funds for Czech motorways. The study found other motorway projects would have been more profitable. Evaluation criteria included the construction’s regional and European significance, accident numbers and ecological impact.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

HN: Suspicious fast-track degrees at Prague uni
HN reports that several students at the University of Finance and Administration (VŠFS) in Prague have obtained their degrees suspiciously fast. The graduates include former Prague 9 council official Jan Štrof who, according to the school’s information database, received his five-year degree within 16 months. Štrof said he was a transfer student from another institution.
Source: HN 1, 2, 3, MfD A3

Prague gets tough on taxis
Prague city councillors agreed unanimously on Thursday on a proposal to change road laws in order to ban unregistered taxi cabs, among other things. Breaking the law would be a criminal offence. Councillors will now present their proposal to the lower house.
Source: ČTK

Police: Foreign cheque fraud costs millions
Dozens of fake and dishonoured cheques flood this country annually from abroad, where organised gangs exploit Czech ignorance and carelessness. According to Jiří Jícha of the north Moravian police department investigating the frauds, annual losses total millions of crowns nationally. The counterfeit cheques are usually sent for items advertised online, having been made out for a higher sum, with a refund requested through an anonymous financial mail service.
Source: ČTK

Malignant tumour hits 400,000 Czechs
A newly released report from the Czech Society for Oncology says that 400,000 Czech patients have been treated for malignant tumours. According to the 2006 figures, cancer is detected in around 70,000 Czech patients annually, with around 30,000 lives lost. Society head Jiří Vorlíček said that despite the rising number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the Czech Republic, fewer cases are fatal.
Source: ČTK, HN 4

ČSSD pushes to scrap medical fees
The Social Democrats submitted a bill yesterday to the lower house which would cancel the fees now required from patients for medical treatment. The new law would also permit sick leave payments in the first three days of medical absence from work. Interior Minister Martin Pecina said yesterday regional authorities should stop refunding medical fees to hospital patients since this compensation system is unlawful.
Source: most Czech press

Czech crown at weakest since mid-July
The Czech crown fell by 0.7% to CZK 26 against the euro yesterday, the poorest showing since mid-July. Patria Finance analyst Tomáš Vlk said the currency weakened in response to yesterday’s Czech National Bank meeting and a retail sales decline in Hungary. The Czech currency is expected to grow against the euro, reaching CZK 25.50 by the year’s end, analysts say.
Source: LN 14

Govt urges increase for 2009 budget
The government wants to raise this year’s state budget deficit by CZK 14 billion from the originally approved CZK 38.1 billion, saying this would boost funds for pensions, unemployment benefits and state debt interest. Parliament will continue to debate next year’s budget proposal today.
Source: ČTK, E15 4, Právo 2

HN: PPF will profit on ArcelorMittal sale
Citing financial group PPF’s annual report and an anonymous source, Hospodářské noviny reports PPF will sell 14% of its shares in ArcelorMittal Ostrava to ArcelorMittal for CZK 7 billion. PPF, whose major shareholder is Petr Kellner, purchased the shares from the state in 2007 for CZK 850 million. HN claims the stake was worth ten times more.
Source: HN 1, 17-19

Dole payments double this year
The Labour Ministry estimates it will have to pay out twice the amount in unemployment benefits this year compared to 2008 due to a rise in national jobless numbers. While in 2008 the ministry spent CZK 7.1 billion on benefits, by the end of 2009, it will have spent CZK 15.7 billion, adding CZK 14.1 billion to the 2009 budget deficit, LN reports.
Source: LN 13

Banks warned Sazka could go bust
The Finance Ministry sent a letter to creditors of the state-run lottery company Sazka in the spring, announcing that Sazka was having or could have problems meeting its obligations, Finance Minister Eduard Janota and his predecessor Miroslav Kalousek confirmed to the news site Aktuálně.cz. Janota sent the letter, he said, because Sazka pays little to sport associations, and the state cannot afford to finance Czech sport.
Source: Aktuálně.cz, MfD A4

Třinecké steelworks down CZK 169m in H1
Czech steelworks Třinecké železárny reported a loss of CZK 169.3 million in the first half of 2009, a sharp decline from last year’s gross profit of CZK 1.34 billion. The company’s first-half revenues were down by one-third annually to CZK 12.851 billion. The company’s loss is expected to deepen further to CZK 1.135 billion by the year’s end.
Source: ČTK

Ústí wants to lift coal mining limits
The council of the northern Bohemian region of Ústí nad Labem has proposed lifting controversial territorial restrictions on brown-coal mining on condition that all disputes between miners and property owners are resolved, regional governor Jana Vaňhová (ČSSD) said yesterday. The previous regional government, led by the ODS, opposed the extension of coal mining beyond a set territory.
Source: LN 1, 13, Právo 2

Škoda: Production cuts, lay-offs ahead
As part of its anti-crisis measures, carmaker Škoda Auto will reduce the production run for its Fabia model in the first quarter of 2010, cutting the number of the company’s agency employees from the current 3,800, the head of the company’s trade unions and board member Jaroslav Povšík said yesterday.
Source: ČTK

Czech Railways to issue bonds
Czech Railways is taking steps to issue bonds worth some CZK 2 billion to finance the purchases including new rail carriages. The state-run rail operator has signed a contract with ČSOB and expects the bond issue to take place in November 2009.
Source: ČTK

Hundreds of hotels up for sale
Between 150 and 200 hotels in the country are now up for sale on the property market, with around 60 of these in Prague, CEO of Imperial Group Jiří Milský told E15. The real number is at least 450, which is ten times more than last year, according to Jiří Rejn of the real estate company Erge.
Source: E15 1, 11

New regulated taxis for Prague Airport
Two taxi operators, Fix and AAA radiotaxi, have won the tender to provide services at Prague Airport. They will launch operations in April next year under a contract ending in January 2015. The price per kilometre will be regulated by city hall and will not exceed CZK 28.
Source: HN 20

Louwman expands Czech car business
Dutch automotive dealer Louwman Group has opened four retail centres in the Czech Republic this year. The investment totalling CZK 220 million covers two stores for Toyota cars in Prague and Ústí nad Labem, a shop and repair centre for Lexus in Prague 5 and a similar Ford outlet in Příbram.
Sources: HN 21

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