NEWS
Four claim having stoned Topolánek
Police yesterday questioned but did not charge four men who had turned themselves in as the quartet wanted for hitting Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek in the head with a stone last week. One of them later told reporters that the group had been hired for the attack and indicated that the order may have come “from Mr Topolánek’s team”.
Source: most Czech press

ČSSD pushes polite campaigning motion
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek yesterday called on the Civic Democrats to jointly produce a memorandum on polite campaigning that would denounce violence against candidates at rallies. ODS leader Mirek Topolánek rejected the offer, saying that his party had already reached a similar deal with other centre-right leaders.
Source: ČTK

Topolánek keeps quite about assets
As the leader of the only major political party that Hospodářské noviny has surveyed about its chairs’ assets, ODS chief Mirek Topolánek refused to disclose the information, telling the daily to go and retrieve the documents in the Senate. HN points out that Senate records show the assets from last year only as accounting reports are due each June.
Source: HN 1, 2, 3

ČSSD pledges to keep pensions growing
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek said yesterday that his party would like to guarantee that the average pension would be worth 55% of the mean net salary. This is roughly as much as it is today. Finance Minister Eduard Janota had called for a spending reform that would also freeze pensions.
Source: Právo 3, ČTK

Greens propose ‘decriminalisation’ of pot
Party Chairman Ondřej Liška said yesterday that the Green Party would like to decriminalise but not legalise marijuana. “While legalisation means the state certifies and regulates the sale of [soft drugs],” he said, “decriminalisation means consumption in reasonable amounts is not a criminal offence and yet is not legal.” As an example, Liška said an underage student caught smoking a joint would be reported to his or her school, parents and a psychologist, but would not be charged.
Source: ČTK

KDU-ČSL seeks to tax high earners more
Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda said yesterday that his party would like people earning more than CZK 600,000 a year to pay an 18% tax instead of today’s flat 15% rate. The KDU-ČSL would also reduce personal exemptions, but introduce tax bonuses for families with children.
Source: most Czech press

Pre-election battle targets families
Parties’ proposed policies concerning families with children have taken centre stage in the countdown to elections. Economist Tomáš Sedláček said that parties are responding to the demographic situation as well as the fact that the family has become a widely discussed public issue. Sedláček added that the family support will not lead to a higher birth rate, but will decrease economic injustices.
Source: LN 2

Winton Train to leave Prague on 1 September
The historical Winton Train will leave Prague bound for London on 1 September, with a commemorative passenger list comprising descendents and relatives of the 669 Jewish children that Nicholas Winton saved by sending them to Great Britain on rail in 1939. A special wagon that the first Czechoslovak president, T. G. Masaryk, received for his 80th birthday will also be added to the train. Winton himself will greet the passengers in London.
Source: Právo 3

NGO fights segregation of Roma in schools
Together to School plans on launching a campaign this autumn to reduce the number of Roma in special educational institutions while boosting their presence in mainstream elementary schools. The project will educate parents about options available so that they will not be at the mercy of opinions that often prediagnose Romani children as having mild retardation without actually evaluating them.
Source: LN 4

Chomutov hires intimidation squad to claim debts
Chomutov City Hall recruited men to accompany the town’s police and follow debtors on the streets to pubs, herna bars and their homes to help collect fines for petty crimes. Chomutov Mayor Ivana Řapková said that the new team will also follow the debtors on the day that social benefits are paid and that the town will do everything possible to get its money.
Source: LN 1, 4, MfD A5

BUSINESS
ČSA won’t slim itself before privatisation
Czech Airlines, which lost a record CZK 1.8 billion in H1 this year, will not sell any assets before its planned privatisation is over, supervisory board chair Ivan Kočárník said yesterday. He added that some divestment might take place if the state fails to find a buyer. The board however acknowledged layoffs of 860 employees, and the cancellation of New York and Manchester flights.
Source: most Czech press

Prague stocks soar to 10-month high
The main PX index at the Prague Stock Exchange yesterday increased 4.94% to 1,195.7 points, the highest level in more than 10 months, on a waive of optimism in the region. Media group CME and developer Orco grew more than 10%, with Erste, NWR and Unipetrol being other major gainers.
Source: ČTK, MfD B1

Cabinet rushes talks to curb 2010 deficit
Caretaker PM Jan Fischer will meet with the leaders of the two largest parties on Thursday, the Civic and Social Democrats, to negotiate support for a draft tax and spending reform, Finance Minister Eduard Janota said yesterday. Janota, the bill’s proponent, wants to cut social spending and increase some taxes to reduce next year’s budget deficit from 7% to 5% of GDP.
Source: Reuters

NERV to propose changes in a Helsinki document
The government’s National Economic Council (NERV) is preparing a document called From Helsinki With Love, an inspiration from Finland on economic and other measures that the parties should include in their election programmes. The document includes budget planning to stretch to five years instead of the current three, cuts at ministries and the setting up of a constant economic advisory body to the government. The ČSSD called the plan unrealistic, and the ODS only agreed with some points.
Source: HN 1, 4

Economist cools hopes for lasting recovery
The Czech economy will never repeat the approximate average 6% annual growth seen in 2005-07, and it may experience a long-term decline unless it embraces education, science and new technologies, Miroslav Zámečník told an economic forum yesterday. Zámečník is member of the National Economic Council, the Czech government’s advisory body.
Source: ČTK

Farmers fear losses this year
Miroslav Jirovský, head of the Czech Agricultural Association, said yesterday that the country’s farming sector as a whole might post its first loss this year since 2003. On Sunday, Agrarian Chamber chief Jan Veleba estimated that farmers’ combined profits will shrink to some CZK 2 billion this year from last year’s 9.7bn on declining food prices.
Source: ČTK

Building societies oppose cuts to benefits
The Association of Czech Building Savings Banks oppose Finance Minister Eduard Janota’s prospective proposal to cut state benefits for building savings contracts from the current CZK 3,000 to CZK 2,000, even retroactively. Association secretary Jiří Šedivý said that the body would submit the proposal for a legal analysis if passed.
Source: LN 13, Právo 15

Credit card numbers drop year on year by 18,000 in H1
According to statistics from the Bank Card Association, the amount of payment plastic issued in 2009 decreased by 18,000 from 1.264 million in H1 of last year. The turnaround owes to the economic crisis, the growing number of insolvent households and banks’ growing cautiousness to issue new cards. The year-on-year drop is about 20%.
Source: LN 1, 13

Ministry wants to cut solar energy perks
The Industry and Trade Ministry is drafting a bill that would reduce guaranteed wholesale prices of electricity produced in solar panels. The ministry says that the prosperous sector no longer needs so much support, particularly since it effectively increases end prices for consumers.
Source: Právo 15, ČTK

Lumius-ČME merger gets green light
The ÚOHS competition watchdog has approved a takeover of the electricity wholesaler Českomoravská energetická (ČME) by competitor Lumius. The anti-monopoly office is yet to review a request by the power giant ČEZ to swallow the expanded Lumius.
Source: HN 13, ČTK

Ikea to open a megastore in Prague-Zličín
On Monday, the furniture retailer announced its plans to open the largest Ikea store in Europe by spring 2011. The new megastore will span 35,000sqm, and construction is due to begin in 2010, with costs estimated at CZK 2.5 billion. The outlet will replace the current one in Prague-Zličín. Ikea ČR reports growing profits, bringing in CZK 464 million in 2007 and CZK 645 million in 2008.
Source: HN 16