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Breakfast Brief – Monday 26 January 2009

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Rath praises Hitler’s economic policies

Adolf Hitler’s economic policy could serve as an inspiration during the current downturn, MP and Central Bohemian regional Governor David Rath said in an interview in Saturday’s Lidové noviny. “Hitler tackled the crisis by producing arms, which gave people work and kick-started the economy,” he told the daily. Rath later offered a clarification, saying he had not meant to glorify Hitler’s “inhuman and criminal regime”.

most Czech press

Černý angry over fictional interview

David Černý, the artist who created the controversial Entropa sculpture that caricatures EU countries, is upset over a fictional interview published by Mladá fronta Dnes Saturday. The paper spuriously quotes Černý as saying Deputy PM Alexandr Vondra promised him more government commissions if he apologises for Entropa. Černý said that unlike artists, newspapers do not have the right to fool the public. Saturday’s MfD made clear that the interview was fictional.

MfD A2, MfD C1, C2 Sat

Flu epidemic looms in seven regions

Jan Kynčl of the National Institute of Public Health said flu cases have risen 23% in the past week to 1,505 infections per 100,000 people. Seven Czech regions are close to the outbreak of flu epidemics, he said.

MfD A4, B1 Sat, LN 4 Sat, LN 4

Havel walking, could head home in days

Doctors said Sunday that Václav Havel’s condition had improved rapidly in recent days and the former president could be moved from intensive care to a standard ward or sent home at the end of this week. Havel, hospitalised with pulmonary problems, is breathing without mechanical ventilation and is up and walking, doctors said.

MfD A5 Sat, Právo 1, 5 Sat, ČTK

Four new ministers sworn in

President Václav Klaus on Friday finalised PM Mirek Topolánek’s cabinet reshuffle by formally appointing four new ministers and giving new responsibilities to two current ministers.

most Czech press

New law reduces police accident probes

Police have been investigating 4,870 car accidents since the beginning of the year, down 48% year-on-year. The reduction is due to a law that took effect on 1 January freeing drivers from calling police to incidents that cause less than CZK 100,000 in damage. Insurance companies report an increase in calls from drivers reporting minor accidents.

MfD A1, A3 Sat, LN 1, 3 Sat

Online porn ban lurking in gambling bill

A bill that aims to restrict online gambling that was passed earlier this month by the Senate includes a clause ordering internet providers to block access to sites with pornographic content. Former Senator Josef Novotný said a ban on pornography was not part of his original draft and that “someone must have modified the bill” during the legislative process.

LN 4 Sat, MfD A4 Sat

Djelić: Czech presidency will see Serbia’s EU bid

Serbia will officially apply for EU membership before the end of the Czech presidency in mid-2009, said Božidar Djelić, Serbia’s deputy PM for European integration, after a meeting Friday with Czech Deputy PM for EU Affairs Alexandr Vondra.


Poll shows most Czechs support EU

More than two-thirds of Czechs think their country is benefiting from EU membership, according to a STEM survey commissioned and published by the Social Democrats.


Poll: Czechs like themselves, Slovaks, French

In a CVVM survey, Czech respondents selected themselves and Slovaks as the most likeable from a list of 24 nationalities, followed by the French, Swedes and English. Palestinians, Afghans and Iraqis received the poorest scores.



Kalousek drops growth forecast to 1.4%

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Czech Television yesterday that his office has reduced its estimate for this year’s GDP growth to 1.4% and the figure could drop further. Kalousek said the budget deficit will nearly double from CZK 38 billion to CZK 75 billion and unemployment could grow to 7.2% from last month’s 6%. The cabinet’s economic crisis team introduced a plan yesterday to revive the Czech economy through a combination of strategic investment to boost exports, social insurance relief for recently graduated students and faster tax write-offs for firms.

most Czech press

Court: No more unannounced inspections

The Constitutional Court has ruled that financial offices can only inspect a companies’ and entrepreneurs’ books based on a specific suspicion. The decision, which effectively bars unannounced inspections, was reached in November but was not made public until now.

HN 1, 3

Škoda Auto planning more cuts

Škoda Auto plans to continue laying off employees, said Petra Barešová of BNV Consulting, which is working with the leading Czech automaker on cutting costs. Administrative workers will be hardest hit, Barešová said. Škoda has already reduced production by introducing a four-day work week from January to June and has begun firing employees supplied by agencies.

E15 10

Logger CE Wood might shut down

Top Czech logging firm CE Wood has announced plans to lay off all its more than 2,000 workers, citing the global financial crisis and unfavourable contracts with state forests manager Lesy ČR. CEO Ivan Doubrava says it is not yet clear how many employees will actually lose their jobs. Bankrupt textile firm Slezan will lay off 140 to 145 staff at its plant in Frýdlant, north Bohemia, and put the facility up for sale.

most Czech press

Companies cutting back on marketing

Although the economic crisis has not yet fully hit the Czech Republic, companies have already started saving, mainly by reducing marketing expenses. Developer ECM has cut its marketing budget by two-thirds, saving millions of crowns. ČSOB is planning similar measures. Advertising agencies are expecting companies to spend between CZK 28.03 billion and CZK 28.73 billion this year, at best a slight increase from last year’s CZK 28.71 billion.

HN 15, 17

Crown continues slide

The Czech crown continued to sink Friday, crossing CZK 28/EUR and CZK 22/USD. Patria Finance analyst Tomáš Vlk said Central European currencies are increasingly vulnerable as the recession deepens, but Next Finance’s Markéta Šichtařová said the crown is “near its hypothetical bottom” and should begin firming again.

Právo 1, 4 Sat, LN 13, ČTK

Jahn: Subsidise green-minded car buyers

Martin Jahn, head of the Czech Automotive Industry Association and a member of the government’s new National Economic Council, says the government subsidise new cars for buyers who dispose of their old vehicle in an environmentally friendly fashion. Jahn is the CEO of Volkswagen’s Russian branch.

MfD A8 Sat

Prague transit agency mulls outsourcing

The Prague Public Transit Company will redirect some competencies to third-party firms this year to achieve cost reductions of up to CZK 115 million, or 10% of its budget. General Director Martin Dvořák said the company wants to focus on its main activity of passenger transport. Some trade unions are protesting the decision.

MfD B3 Sat

Brno-Vienna motorway pact inked

The Czech Republic and Austria signed an agreement on Friday to complete a motorway connection between Brno and Vienna. The Czech R52 and Austrian A5 will meet in Mikulov.


Business slightly up at Czech cinemas

Czech cinemas sold 12.88 million tickets last year, a slight gain from 2007’s 12.83 million and the highest total in 14 years. Cinema revenue rose CZK 20 million to a record CZK 1.22 billion.

MfD A5 Sat, E15 12, ČTK

ČEZ eyeing energy projects in Serbia

Power giant ČEZ plans to bid in a EUR 1.4 billion tender announced last week by Serbia to expand its Kolubara and Nikola Tesla power stations.


Czech lender loses billions in Russia

Home Credit, a lending firm owned by Czech financier Petr Kellner’s PPF group, lost the equivalent of CZK 1.1 billion on its Russian operations last year. The company was profitable for most of the year but lost CZK 3.2 billion in the last quarter as a result of a devaluation of the rouble.


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