NEWS
Experts: ODS has replacement for Topolánek
Political experts polled by ČTK say that ODS already has a replacement in mind for party chairman Mirek Topolánek but that his opponents do not want to risk an open clash before the elections. Topolánek told ČT 24 yesterday that he could be replaced by the party’s vice deputy in Moravia-Silesia, Pavel Drobil, the head of the Brno ODS, Pavel Blažek, or the Liberec party vice deputy, Radim Zika.
Source: ČTK, LN 1, 3

Swine flu vaccinations extended to children aged 10-plus
The State Institute for Drug Control and the European Medicines Agency have decided to extend swine flu immunisations to children aged 10 and older who are chronically ill. The first groups of children are to receive the vaccine in December, said Deputy Health Minister Marek Šnajdr. Vaccinations for medical personnel start today; selected patients with bad health condition will follow.
Source: most Czech press

Cabinet expresses regret over forced Roma sterilisations
The cabinet yesterday expressed its regret over the illegal sterilisation of predominantly Roma women in the 1990s. Michael Kocáb, the Minister for Human Rights and Minorities, said measures are being adopted that would prevent anything similar from happening again. The League of Human Rights said the expression of regret was insufficient and has demanded financial compensation for the women.
Source: ČTK, LN 5, Pd 12

Aktuálně.cz: ČR wants post of EU enlargement commissioner
The Czech Republic will try to get the post of European Commissioner for Enlargement for its candidate Štefan Füle. According to unnamed diplomatic sources in Brussels, the Czech Republic could get the post since it is not in high demand by older EU member countries. EC President José Barroso will decide on new commissioners in the coming weeks.
Source: Aktuálně.cz

HN: Healthcare facing lack of funds
Insurance companies could run out of cash next year due to the economic crisis, which would then lead health providers to offer less care by 2011, Hospodářské noviny reports, referring to an insurance plan put forward by VZP. The country’s largest health insurer said it will not have enough resources next year to pay hospitals and doctors on time for medical care.
Source: HN 1-3

ODS expert says euro possible in 2015
ODS economic expert Martin Kocourek said at his party’s national congress last weekend that the Czech Republic could adopt the euro in 2015 if the Civic Democrats win the general election next year. Kocourek, an ODS candidate for finance minister, said if ODS wins, the country could push the budget deficit to below 3% of GDP within two years.
Source: HN 4

Survey: More trust in cabinet than president
A CVVM survey published yesterday shows that for the first time since November 1989 more people trust the cabinet than the president by a margin of 71% to 68%. Only 8% of people say they are satisfied with the political situation, while 63% say they are dissatisfied.
Source: ČTK, LN 4, Právo 2

Czech Kosovo commander suspended over shooting
Jiří Kývala, the commander of the 15th contingent of the Czech army in Kosovo, was suspended yesterday in connection with a recent shooting there that left one soldier injured. Three other individuals, including the probable culprit, have also been suspended pending an investigation. A special investigation committee left for Kosovo yesterday.
Source: Právo 3, ČTK

Auditors: Labour Ministry erred in building repair financing
The Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) said yesterday that the Labour Ministry failed to check on the effective use of state funds spent on reconstructing and repairing ministry offices from 2006 to 2008. The audit office discovered inconsistencies in financing 19 projects worth CZK 1.3 billion.
Source: ČTK

Artist transforms Velvet Revolution memorial for one day
Artist David Brudňák, also known as Roman Týc, on Sunday installed a Nazi salute and a hand with a raised middle finger on the Velvet Revolution memorial on Prague’s Národní třída. The artist called the piece “Není co slavit” (nothing to celebrate). The installation was removed yesterday and is currently under police investigation.
Source: most Czech press

Plzeň law faculty names new vice deans
The head of the law faculty in Plzeň, Jiří Pospíšil, yesterday introduced three new vice deans: Karel Eliáš, Petr Bezouška and Bohumil Havel. The three were among those who helped to expose academic fraud at the faculty. Only one vice dean from the previous administration, Karel Klíma, in charge of the international relations, will remain in his post.
Source: ČTK

Police say fleeing prisoner shot himself
A police investigation yesterday ruled that escaped prisoner Pavel Tauchen shot and killed himself two weeks ago as police tried to arrest him and his wife. Police are still looking into injuries suffered by Tauchen’s wife. The results are expected to be known by the end of December.
Source: ČTK, LN 4, MfD A4

BUSINESS
ČR has EU’s second-worst tax bureaucracy
A joint analysis by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the World Bank has named the Czech Republic as the second-worst country in the EU and 15th-worst in the world for tax administration. The study said companies spend on average 613 hours on taxes, compared with the European average of 232 hours.
Source: HN 1, 15, 18

Cabinet withdraws mining amendment
The cabinet yesterday withdrew from consideration a controversial mining law that was first approved in September 2008. Industry and Trade Minister Vladimír Tošovský said he could see the law being approved a year after new energy policies are adopted. The Green Party, which favours the amendment, said it will resubmit the draft to the lower house and accused the government of caving in to the mining companies.
Source: ČTK

EC to look into Czech energy market
Euro.cz, citing sources, writes that the European Commission plans to launch an investigation into the Czech energy market, including into energy giant ČEZ and finance group J&T. ČEZ spokesman Ladislav Kříž said the company had no information on a possible probe.
Source: Euro.cz

Construction starts on big D1 interchange project
The Road and Motorway Directorate (ŘSD) yesterday launched construction of what will be the largest highway interchange in the country, connecting the Prague inner ring to the D1 motorway. Traffic on the D1 has been partially moved to a substitute road and speed reduced to 50 kph. The restrictions will last six months.
Source: most Czech press

ČD plans reductions of express trains
Czech Railways (ČD) has announced plans to cancel or reduce some express train services. Overall train service will decrease by 2% as of 13 December. The changes include redirecting EuroCity trains from Germany to Prague’s main station. Ticket prices will largely remain the same.
Source: most Czech press

HN: Leasing instalments easier to put off
Leasing providers are becoming increasingly more generous when dealing with late payments from customers. HN reports that for leasing companies waiting for a delayed instalment is better than, for example, trying to resell a car that has been returned due to customer’s insolvency.
Source: HN 15, 19

Number of credit cards decreases
According to the Bank Card Association, the number of credit cards in the Czech Republic at the end of September fell by 67,000 year-on-year to around 1.24 million. The association’s executive director, Roman Kotlán, said customers are worried they will not be able to afford the cards’ interest fees and are opting for debit cards instead.
Source: Právo 1, 5, LN 15

Toll extension could increase transport prices
A plan to extend electronic tolls to vans over 3.5 tonnes is likely to lead to an increase in prices for some transport services. The spokesman of the road transport association Česmad Bohemia, Martin Felix, said bus transport prices could also increase. The toll extension will come to force next year.
Source: ČTK

Czech MTV to start Sunday
TV Nova CEO Petr Dvořák said yesterday the Czech version of the music channel MTV will launch on Sunday and will be available to some 1.5 million viewers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It will replace MTV Europe.
Source: HN 15-17, E15 1, 8