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Breakfast Brief – Tuesday 27 January 2009

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Czechs, EU hesitate on taking Guantanamo prisoners

Czech diplomats are taking a reserved stance toward accepting prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Hospodářské noviny reported. EU foreign ministers met yesterday in Brussels but did not reach a unified position. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and Interior Minister Ivan Langer will discuss the subject during their official visit to the US at the beginning of February.

HN 1, 6

Ministry fined for leaking leaders’ talk

The NBÚ national security agency has imposed a CZK 77,000 fine on the Interior Ministry for leaking sensitive passages of a meeting last year between Czech PM Mirek Topolánek and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is the first time the NBÚ has fined a ministry.

LN 1, 4, Právo 3,, ČTK

Cabinet approves changes to education system

The cabinet yesterday approved the “White Book” proposal for education reform prepared by Education Minister Ondřej Liška. He will now work on the details together with Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek. The reform would transform higher education over the next 15-20 years and would introduce tuition payments, student loans and grants for needy students. Liška confirmed tuition fees would not be introduced before 2014.

most Czech press

Cabinet backs direct presidential vote

Ministers have proposed a constitutional amendment stipulating that the president be elected by popular vote rather than by legislators. Passage of the bill is uncertain.

MfD A1, A2, Právo 1, 2

Number of stolen cars lowest in 13 years

According to preliminary statistics, there were 18,011 stolen cars in the country last year, 1,500 fewer than in 2007 and the lowest number in the past 13 years, Mladá fronta Dnes reports. Police attribute the decline to their successful battle against car thieves.

MfD A1, A3

Doctors say fee waiver will cut service

Czech paediatricians have warned they would not offer extended hours or scheduled appointments if the government abolishes medical fees. New Health Minister Daniela Filipiová supports a proposal to waive fees for children up to 15 years.


Govt getting ready for Galileo project

The cabinet yesterday approved a plan to connect the police, military and secret services to the Galileo navigation satellite system currently under development by the EU. New Transport Minister Petr Bendl said Galileo could also be used to serve the public and help collect road tolls. The country will join the system in 2013.



Economic council warns against too much debt

The 10-member National Economic Council (NERV) set up to deal with the economic crisis has warned against accumulating too much debt. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said all anti-crisis measures and their possible consequences would be studied and that there would be no rush to inject extensive aid into the economy. Among other measures, NERV is planning to lower the amount that companies pay in social insurance for their employees and to speed up insolvency proceedings.

most Czech press

Paroubek warns against ČSA sale to Aeroflot

Opposition leader Jiří Paroubek yesterday warned against selling Czech Airlines (ČSA) to Aeroflot, saying the Russian carrier could pose a threat to employment and transport safety at ČSA. Paroubek reiterated that the government should suspend the planned privatisation as bidders will likely be scarce and offers low due to the global downturn.

HN 13, 14, Právo 4

Cabinet to cut investment incentives

The cabinet approved a measure to cut investment incentives yesterday as a way of saving money and slowing the impact of the economic crisis, leaving only those incentives going to technology centres and shared service centres. The Social Democrats oppose cutting all incentives for the manufacturing industry.

most Czech press

Govt will issue euro bonds

The Finance Ministry has selected Barclays Capital, Česká spořitelna and Deutsche Bank to manage a sale of euro bonds. The ministry plans to borrow a maximum of CZK 148.4 billion in 2009, with no more than half coming from foreign markets.

HN 19

Govt will spend cash reserves

The cabinet yesterday decided to use the reserve funds of individual ministries, totalling more than CZK 40 billion, to patch up this year’s public finances. With GDP expected to grow by 1% this year, the move should keep the deficit at CZK 73.3 billion instead of more than CZK 110 billion.

E15 4, Právo 4

Sinking Crystalex losing staff

Over 300 employees at Crystalex yesterday handed in their notices after the bankrupt glassmaker failed to pay their wages. Others are hoping that promised government aid will help revive production.

HN 13, ČTK

Court declares logger CE Wood insolvent

The Brno regional court has declared the biggest Czech logger CE Wood to be insolvent after the company announced plans to lay off its 2,000 employees. The court was responding to a proposal by Lesy ČR, whom CE Wood owes CZK 156 million. CE Wood Chairman Ivan Doubrava said Lesy ČR has been discriminating his company in its tenders.

HN 15

PPF to acquire Russian chain Eldorado

Petr Kellner’s group PPF is planning to take control of the Russian electronics chain Eldorado in exchange for cancelling Eldorado’s half a billion dollar debt, according to the Russian daily Vedomosti.

HN 17, E15 8

Firms searching for lower-cost office space

An increasing number of firms are replacing their offices with cheaper rentals owing to the economic crisis, according to the real estate agency Sting. The agency says the number of firms that have vacated their office space has grown threefold in the past six months. and King Sturge, both real estate agencies, confirmed the trend.

HN 13

Latvia will borrow cash from ČR

The Czech Republic will lend Latvia EUR 200 million for seven years to help the country cope with its economic difficulties. Latvia will not pay any interest but will cover the costs of raising the funds through bond sales. “We won’t lose a crown, but we won’t earn a crown either. It is a major display of solidarity among EU countries”, said Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek.


Cabinet OKs Strojimport privatisation

Ministers yesterday approved the sale of state-run machinery exporter Strojimport to the Czech firm Toshulin for CZK 121.4 million.


Cabinet gives green light to farmer aid

The cabinet yesterday approved a plan to release CZK 2 billion to help farmers cope with the impact of the financial crisis. The proposal will now go to the parliament.


Number of hotel guests fell by up to 30% in 2008

The number of hotel guests dropped by 20%-30% in 2008, according to the first estimates of the Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants provided to the daily E15. The reasons behind the drop were the strong crown at the beginning of the year and the economic crisis in the second half of 2008.

E15 8

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