Three local patients suspected of swine flu
Three Czechs are suspected of contracting swine flu after returning from a recent visit to Mexico. One person is in Prague’s Motol hospital, while the other two are at Bulovka hospital. Meantime, the Foreign Ministry is recommending not to travel to parts of Mexico affected by swine flu, including Mexico City, San Luis Potosí and Mexicali.
most Czech press

Schwarzenberg says ČR differs from EU on Israel
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said yesterday the Czech EU presidency has a different opinion on developments in Israel than the European Commission. He said such differences are common within the EU. Last week, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek criticised a statement by EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who said further improvement of EU-Israeli relations would depend on Israel agreeing to continue peace talks.

New civil code could be postponed until 2015
The outgoing cabinet yesterday approved a new civil code but will not send it to the lower house as there is not enough time to approve it before early elections in the autumn. ČSSD opposes the code and plans to rewrite it if the party wins the elections. The authors of the code claim it is more supportive of the individual over the state.
most Czech press

Two boys killed by train
Two boys, aged 10 and 14, were killed yesterday by an express train near the Brno-Komárov train station as they were crossing the tracks. The driver managed to stop the train but could not avoid the collision. The police are investigating.
MfD A4, Právo 1, 4

ČSSD conducts survey on possible Communist support
Oto Novotný, a sociologist and ČSSD’s chief analyst, told Hospodářské noviny the party is conducting a survey to find out how many Czechs would object to either ČSSD forming a government with the active participation of the Communists or to a minority government with support of the Communists after early elections in October.
HN 5

US, EU delegations meet on terror in Prague
A US delegation is in Prague today for talks with EU representatives on fighting terrorism and the US electronic visa system, ESTA. The Czech EU presidency will be represented by Interior Minister Ivan Langer and Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil, while the US delegation will be led by US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder.

ČR to donate CZK 2 million for Auschwitz reconstruction
The Czech cabinet has decided to donate CZK 2 million toward reconstructing the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial in Poland. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová, who submitted the proposal, said the money would be taken from the budget for maintaining war graves and remembrance areas.

Communist-era prisoners to get compensation
The outgoing cabinet yesterday approved a one-time payment for persons unfairly imprisoned by the communist regime. The total cost is expected to reach some CZK 700 million.

PPF to get Eldorado for USD 300m
The PPF investment company has won control of the Russian retail electronics chain Eldorado for USD 300 million. PPF closed the deal with Eldorado’s majority owner Igor Yakovlev last week. PPF is acquiring Eldorado through a joint company with Yakovlev; it will get 50% plus one share in the company through converting a loan it gave Yakovlev last year.
most Czech press

Exim Tours cancels trips to Mexico
The country’s largest travel agency, Exim Tours, has cancelled holiday trips to Cancún in Mexico due to an outbreak of swine flu. About 1,000 Czech holidaymakers were due to travel there in the coming days. Exim is considering offering an alternative destination. Fischer is also considering changing its holiday schedules.
HN 4, MfD A3

Sources: Plane deal unfavourable
E15 quotes sources close to the Defence Ministry as saying a recent deal by the outgoing cabinet to acquire four Spanish CASA planes is unfavourable to the Czech Republic. In return, the Czechs agreed to repair and modify L-159 fighter planes that would add another CZK 500 million to the deal and which was not included in the initial price of CZK 3.5 billion. The sources said a regular tender would have been more profitable.
E15 4

Mortgage brokers profit amid financial crisis
Mortgage brokers in the Czech Republic are profiting because of stricter lending rules the banks adopted in response to the financial crisis. The country’s largest broker, Simply, said it serviced deals worth CZK 1.857 billion in the first quarter of 2009, a third more than a year ago. Company head Jan Urban said people increasingly need mortgage brokers because it’s harder to get a loan directly from a bank.
HN 17, 19

Česká rafinérská reaches preliminary agreement with Transpetrol
Česká rafinérská and Paramo have reached a tentative three-year deal with the Slovak company Transpetrol on transporting oil through Slovakia. Details were not made public, but shareholders of the companies will have two weeks to comment on conditions.

Only a small number of ČEZ customers opt to fix rates
Only 3,900 ČEZ customers, representing 0.1% of all ČEZ customers, have taken advantage of an offer to fix electricity prices for next year. The offer expires at the end of April. E.ON customers have until the end of May to fix rates.
HN 17

State support for export loans to be expanded
The cabinet yesterday approved an amendment that would expand state support for commercial bank loans for promoting exports. The amendment, part of a package of measures to fight the economic crisis, must now be approved by the lower house and signed by the president.
E15 2

Amendment would allow state to take over troubled banks
A new change in the banking law approved by the cabinet would allow the state to take over banks in serious financial trouble. The amendment also introduces the concept of a bridge bank that would allow assets to be quickly transferred from troubled banks to healthy institutions. The amendment must now be approved by parliament and signed by the president.
HN 20

More people willing to move for work
A ČTK poll of job agencies shows people’s willingness to move for work has increased in the past six months. This is particularly true for upper management. Some agencies claim the change was triggered by the economic crisis.

Pharmacies slow to join the central registry
As of today, just 700 of a total of 2,600 pharmacies have joined a central registry aimed at saving insurance money. All pharmacies are obliged to use the registry by 1 May. The system would enable the pharmacies, doctors and patients to exchange information about medicines.

State subsidies extended to ‘non-panel’ houses
The cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the state’s programme for subsidising housing improvements that would extend subsidies to all multi-family housing units and not just to “panel-construction” buildings that were covered under the original legislation. The subsidies cover 15%-25% of the costs of improvements.

UPC to test high-speed 50-100 Mbit/s internet
UPC cable internet provider is planning to test a high-speed internet connection of 50-100 Mbit/s. Testing should start in May and the company could be ready to offer the service to the public by autumn. UPC currently offers internet connections of up to 30 Mbit/s.

Mobile operators interested in new frequencies
The Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) reported yesterday that all three major mobile phone operators have entered a tender to bid for a newly freed GSM mobile network operation. Mobile operators could use the new frequencies for developing their current GSM networks or offering new broadband mobile services.