In this week’s Business News: pension reform wins political backing; biggest brewer sets up export subsidiary; female viewers targeted by broadcaster; private car fleet shows its age; and hard coal imports surge.
Pension reform lines agreed
Czech pension reform has taken another step forward with government parties agreeing the main lines of a new system to be introduced at the start of 2013. The new system brings private pension funds into play with those younger than 35 allowed to divert up to 3.0 percent of social insurance payments into private funds as long as they top them up with their own money. The expected hole in the existing pay-as-you-go pension system will be filled by moving many goods from the lower 10 percent Value Added Tax rate to the higher 20 percent rate. Some basic foods will still be taxed at the lower rate.
Biggest brewer targets export increase
The country’s biggest brewer, Plzeňský Prazdroj, says it will set up a separate unit dedicated to boosting its exports. The move comes in the wake of poor 2010 results which showed a 6.0 percent drop in overall beer sales as higher excise taxes twinned with lower disposal income on the home market. Export sales fared slightly better, up 6.0 percent compared with 2009. The brewer says the new export unit will help it sell more in the around 50 countries it already targets and develop new markets.
All you need is Love
Commercial broadcaster Prima is launching a third free tv channel in the country, Prima Love. The channel is targeting women between 15 and 44 with a mix of popular series, telenovelas and romantic and comedy films. The move has been masterminded by the 50 percent owners and managers of the channel, Swedish media company Modern Times Group. It has already has a mainstream channel TV Prima and channel aimed at men, Prima Cool. Managers say the step will help it draw in more advertising and presumably put more pressure on its main commercial rival, TV Nova.
Newer car trend reversed
The Czech Republic’s privately owned car fleet actually got older last year, rising from an average 13.7 years from 13.65 years in 2009. That rise reverses a longer term trend with the average car age falling by around a year over the previous five years. Figures from the car industry association show 4.5 million cars in private hands nationwide. Car ownership is highest in the capital, Prague, where there is on average one car for every 1.93 people.
Imports fill coal hole
Coal to the Czech Republic sounds a bit like sand to Saudi Arabia. But as exploitable coal reserve in the country run down or are reserved for certain customers, imports of hard or black coal have been mounting. Last year imports of hard coal, mostly used for steelmaking, rose by a quarter compared with 2009 to a value of 5.6 billion crowns. The biggest supplier is Poland, followed by Russia. Over the last decade these high quality coal imports have more than trebled. Imports of brown coal or lignite, mostly used by power stations, are still small compared with Czech exports of the commodity.