NEWS
Janota: State debt could reach CZK 2 trillion by 2012
Finance Minister Eduard Janota estimated yesterday that without quick legislative action on spending the state will run annual deficits of CZK 230 billion through 2012, swelling the total state arrears to CZK 2 trillion. The heads of ODS and ČSSD oppose enacting cuts before the October elections, but ex-Finance Minister and TOP 09 head Miroslav Kalousek said failing to act now would delay a new budget proposal until February 2010.
Source: most Czech press

Tax cheat kept on at Finance Ministry
Then-Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek retained attorney Radek Šnábl in a top legal post after Šnábl’s April conviction for evading CZK 5.5 million in taxes 10 years ago. Kalousek said Šnábl was very effective at representing the state in arbitrations. Current law allows for a convicted criminal to keep a government position if his superiors vouch for him. Šnábl said he offered to resign but Kalousek refused, and said he will make the same offer to current Finance Minister Eduard Janota.
Source: most Czech press

Minister: Deficit might force pay cut for teachers
Education Minister Miroslava Kopicová told Mladá fronta Dnes teacher salaries might have to drop to make up a CZK 3.2 billion shortfall in the ministry’s budget. The monthly average of CZK 23,000 would decline by CZK 1,500 if the plan is implemented. Schools union chief František Dobšík ruled out a strike but said the union would otherwise do all it could to fight the proposal.
Source: MfD A1 Sat

Poll: Left could win 101 of 200 seats
A Factum Invenio survey shows the Social Democrats getting 72 seats in October’s general elections, followed by the Civic Democrats with 66, the Communists with 29, Top 09 with 22 and the Christian Democrats with 11.
Source: most Czech press Sat

President’s popularity wanes
According to the latest CVVM survey, 59% of Czechs trust President Václav Klaus, down from 66% in June. The president remains one of the most trusted Czech officials or bodies, along with local government authorities.
Source: ČTK

ODS and ČSSD want to close Regional Development Ministry
ODS leader Mirek Topolánek said his party would shutter the Ministry for Regional Development if it wins the October early elections. ČSSD has announced similar plans. Topolánek also proposed shifting control of the CzechTourism agency and Czech cultural centres abroad from the Foreign Ministry to the Culture Ministry.
Source: LN 4 Sat, Právo 5 Sat

Swiss press: Janoušek made CZK 2bn in suspicious transfers
Swiss weekly Le Matin Dimanche reported yesterday that suspicious fund transfers made by Czech lobbyist Roman Janoušek to a Kredietbank account add up to about CZK 2 billion. Banking authorities began investigating Janoušek earlier this year when he would not account for the source of the CHF 13 million in the account, which is registered to a Panama-based firm, Botanic Finance.
Source: MfD A1, A2

Greenpeace flies banner as Klaus launches book
Environmentalists on Friday unfurled a banner from the lookout tower of Prague’s Old Town Hall urging politicians to tackle climate change. The action coincided with President Václav Klaus’s launch of his new book Blue Planet at a nearby cafe. In the book Klaus argues that global temperatures are being used as an excuse for excess state interference in society.
Source: most Czech press Sat

ČR bans some traditional light bulbs
Sales of some incandescent bulbs, including those with frosted glass or an output of 100 watts or more, will be banned in the Czech Republic from 1 September, except for current stocks. The move is required by an EU legislation. President Václav Klaus said he would stock up on the incandescent bulbs.
Source: most Czech press Sat

Recession seen hurting road repairs
Road maintenance budgets could shrink by 30% to 50% next year as the recession bites into tax revenue, said Miroslav Němec, head of the Pardubice road agency, after a meeting with other regional providers. Němec said the cutbacks could lead to redundancies and works delays.
Source: ČTK

BUSINESS
Banks post steady profits in first half
The Czech financial sector netted CZK 26.6 billion in the first six months of 2009, approximately matching last year’s first-half performance, according to the Czech National Bank. Česká spořitelna, ČSOB, Komerční banka and UniCredit were the top earners. Cyrrus analyst Marek Hatlapatka said Czech banks went into the crunch in good condition but “The second half of this year will be a bit more difficult”.
Source: ČTK, LN 5 Sat

Czech industry shrinks by a fifth
Preliminary figures from the Czech Statistical Office show Czech industrial output in July was 18.4% lower than a year earlier. The value of new orders was down 22.7% year-on-year. Mladá fronta Dnes reports one of the reasons for the drop was a furlough at Škoda Auto plants. Manufacturers interviewed by Hospodářské noviny were pessimistic about the prospects for a near-term recovery. Confederation of Industry head Jaroslav Míl said government should focus on support for the private sector rather than “populist state measures”.
Source: MfD A6 Sat, HN 17

Orco losses near EUR 200m in H1
Real estate developer Orco posted a EUR 199.9 million loss in the first six months of the year, more than EUR 65 million above analysts’ expectations and a 14-fold increase year-on-year. Revenues grew 17% to EUR 132 million but the company’s assets shrank from EUR 2.1 billion to EUR 1.8 billion.
Source: MfD A6 Sat, ČTK

Car manufacturers keep up discounts
Major car producers, including Seat and Peugeot, say summer discounts on specific models are likely to continue into autumn due to low demand. Škoda launched a discount campaign earlier this month, shaving thousands of crowns off the price of first-generation Octavia models.
Source: HN 18

Layoffs will cost ČSA CZK 346m
Czech Airlines’ plan to lay off 860 employees this year and next will cost the company CZK 346 million. Redundant pilots are entitled to a year’s pay under their current contract. Filip Gaspar, head of the pilots’ union, said this condition is only valid until the end of the year. ČSA head Radomír Lašák and other members of the firm’s board will get six months’ compensation.
Source: MfD A7 Sat

E.ON trimming gas prices in ČR
The Czech branch of E.ON said Friday it would cut natural gas rates for homes and small firms by 4% on average from 1 October. Competitor RWE announced a 2.5% cut Thursday.
Source: MfD B1 Sat, Právo 9 Sat

ČSSD: Raise jobless benefit, cut work week
Social Democratic leaders on Friday proposed boosting unemployment support for people who lose a job after working for at least two years. The party would also increase pensions and cut the working week to three or four days during recession; staff could get full pay, covered by the European Social Fund, if they use the free time for training.
Source: ČTK

Low property prices boost food and drink market
Some 60 food and drink firms are interested in entering the Czech market, Hospodářské noviny reports. Analysts attribute the growth to companies taking advantage of low real estate prices and a rising standard of living which makes clients more willing to spend money on food services. Gloria Jean’s, Australia’s largest coffee chain, will open in Prague this week.
Source: HN 17

Philip Morris H1 net up 81%
Mid-year profits at the Czech unit of Philip Morris soared 81.2% year-on-year to CZK 1.1 billion, exceeding analysts’ expectations. Revenue grew 30.4% revenue to CZK 5.5bn.
Source: ČTK

Profits at national lottery dwindle
Sazka, the largest Czech betting firm, netted CZK 771 million in January-June, 6.4% less than a year earlier, despite a 4.7% revenue growth to CZK 4.4 billion.
Source: HN 20, MfD B3

Telecoms’ sales up 2.5% in 2008
Combined revenues at Czech phone operators last year grew by 2.5% to CZK 141.5 billion. Mobile services boomed while landline revenues dropped, regulator ČTÚ reported.
Source: ČTK