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Breakfast Brief – 1 July 2009

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Canada mulling return of visas
Prime Minister Jan Fischer told Czech TV yesterday that Canada had entered talks with the ČR on the introduction of visas for Czech nationals based on growing numbers of Roma asylum seekers. Some 1,077 Roma have arrived in Canada since January this year. Three out of four are granted refugee status based on neo-Nazi attacks and discrimination in ČR. reported Monday that the visas may come as early as 7 July.
HN 1, LN 1, 4

Janota: State to cover main flood costs
The state will finance most of the cost of recent flash flood damage, which could top CZK 5.6 billion, Finance Minister Eduard Janota said on Tuesday. The state will use reserve funds, loans and possibly a bond issue for the purpose, he added. Road and rail track damage is estimated at CZK 2 billion.

Topolánek, Fischer: Czech EU presidency was successful
The six-month Czech EU presidency, which ended on Tuesday, was successful, PM Jan Fischer and his predecessor Mirek Topolánek said Tuesday.

ODS Senators to contest Lisbon Treaty, Germany gives it OK
A group of ODS senators plans to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court against the Lisbon Treaty by August, one of the complaint’s initiators senator Jiří Oberfalzer said yesterday following a ruling by the German Constitutional Court that the treaty did not breach the German constitution. President Václav Klaus did not comment on the verdict, which was welcomed by PM Jan Fischer. ČSSD chief Jiří Paroubek expressed hopes the president would acknowledge the verdict.
most Czech press

Czech government will retain EU presidency staff
The state will offer jobs to all 336 temporary staff employed for the Czech EU presidency. E15 reports a new EU coordination centre will be established, employing some 50 people. Štefan Füle, the Minister for European Affairs, said 100 jobs in state administration, including missions in Brussels, will go to those who stay on. All temporary employees will get recommendation letters.
E15, 1, 3

Army will sack 3,000 by year’s end
The army will lay off 3,000 people by the end of 2009 and eliminate some 1,500 unfilled positions, Jitka Šebková of the ČMOS union association said after talks with the Defence Ministry on Tuesday.
ČTK, Právo 1, 4, E15 6, 7

Prague’s last squat shut down, three police injured
Three police officers were injured and three squatters detained during the closing of villa Milada, the last squat in Prague. A security agency, hired by the building administrator, the ÚIV institute, started to clear the building on Tuesday morning after local residents complained about noise and clutter.
LN 1, 6, Právo 3

Study: Democracy worsening in post-communist countries
The state of democracy worsened last year in most of the 29 post-communist countries, including the Czech Republic, covered in a study by the Freedom House organisation that was released on Tuesday. On a seven-point scale, the Czech Republic had an average grade of 2.18 and ranked third among the monitored countries behind Estonia and Slovenia.

Terezín will host Christian College
A new private ecumenical university called Christian College should open in Terezín in the 2010/2011 academic year.

AVČR head takes stand against funding cuts
Academy of Sciences (AVČR) chairman Jiří Drahoš said yesterday he was ready to take part in public protests against the government’s decision on Monday to cut funding to the institution. If the government fails to change its stance, the Academy will have to cut thousands of jobs next year, he added.

Czech crown hits record 25.83 against euro
The Czech crown stood at CZK 25.83 against the euro yesterday, its best result this year, startling economists who had predicted the opposite trend only last week. UniCredit Bank’s Pavel Sobíšek said that London traders were buying the Czech crown in bulk based on beliefs that the Czech economy will recover faster from the recession and is faring better than the rest of the region.
HN 1, 23

Court awards Babiš CZK 2bn
Unipetrol owner, Polish PKN Orlen, must pay CZK 2 billion to Czech entrepreneur Andrej Babiš for the company’s contractual breach, according to a Prague arbitration award yesterday. Babiš helped PKN Orlen with the Unipetrol privatisation in 2004 in exchange for a promise of cheaper assets. PKN Orlen’s new management then cancelled this contract. Babiš has filed another claim worth CZK 20 billion that will begin arbitration later this month.
HN 1, 15, 16, 17

Regulated rents in ČR up 17.3% next year
According to the Regional Development Ministry’s estimate, national regulated rents will rise by an average 17.3% next year. These rents affect some 750,000 Czech households. The tenants’ association SON ČR said Tuesday that it expected a 40%-60% increase in regulated rents in some areas.
E15 5, ČTK

ČEZ, EP Holding main bidders for International Power
The deadline for acquisition bids for International Power group closes today, with current main bidders comprising EP Holding, a joint venture of investment groups J&T and PPF, as well as energy giant ČEZ and Czech Coal. Sources say, however, that J&T and ČEZ are ready to reach a bilateral agreement on the purchase. International Power owns Opatovice power plant, Energotrans heating plant in Mělník and a minority share in Pražská teplárenská. The group is worth some CZK 15 billion.
HN 15

HP will outsource hundreds of Scottish jobs to ČR
Hewlett Packard will cancel 843 positions in Scotland’s Erskine, transferring most of them to the Czech Republic in an effort to cut costs, the news site reported, citing British website Paisley Daily Express. Karel Taschner of the Czech unit of HP said the relevant contract should be signed by the end of July.
HN 18,

Industrial output down 21.7% in May
Czech industrial production in May fell by 21.7% year-on-year, a slight improvement on April’s 22.1% result, according to preliminary data from the Czech Statistical Office on Tuesday. Analysts expect a decline in GDP by up to 5.5% in Q2.
most Czech press

Exports down 0.4% in 2008
The Czech Republic exported goods worth CZK 2.47 trillion last year, down CZK 11.2 billion (0.4%) from the previous year, the Czech Statistical Office said Tuesday.

Household debt up in May
Czech households’ total debt to banks and other financial institutions increased by CZK 7 billion during May to CZK 922.6 billion. Over the past year, household debt has risen by more than CZK 138.7 billion, the Czech National Bank said.
most Czech press

Czech foreign debt reaches CZK 1.51 trillion
The Czech Republic’s foreign debt stood at CZK 1.51 trillion at the end of the first quarter, a rise of CZK 135 billion year-on-year. This debt accounts for 40.8% of the country’s gross domestic product, the Czech National Bank said.

Cut-price chain plans expansion
Low-cost goods chain Vše za 39 (Everything for CZK 39) plans another acquisition and the expansion of its network to smaller towns, the company head Michal Hájek said. The company has already acquired SOS textil, Hák&Hák and Sluníčko, and its sales reached CZK 80 million last year.
HN 19

Jablonex Group will axe 450 jobs
Unions at glass maker Jablonex Group say the company will dismiss around 450 people in the next few months, reducing its workforce to less than 1,000.

EU-ČR text messages now cheaper
Starting today the price of text messages from all EU countries to the Czech Republic will fall to CZK 3.50 based on new European Commission rules. Roaming call prices have also been lowered. Savings to callers have, however, been levelled out because of the earlier weakness of the crown.
MfD A1, B1

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