In Business News this week: The percentage of workers in industry and construction aged 40 or less in the Czech Republic is the highest in the European Union; in its new economic forecast, the Czech National Bank has downgraded the GDP estimate for next year; Czech household debt increases.
ČSU Survey: percentage of workers 40 or under in industry, construction, highest in EU
The percentage of workers in industry and construction aged 40 or less in the Czech Republic is the highest in the European Union, statistics released by the Czech Statistical Office (ČSU) on Friday suggest. According to the data, roughly 904,000 people 40 or under worked in industry last year; the number, according to the office, dropped by almost 230,000 employees in the sectors between 1995 and 2011. In other statistics, the office confirmed that 1.35 million Czechs in the same age group of a total 2.3 million 40 and under employed worked in the services industry; that number is the second-lowest in the European Union after Romania.
National Bank lowers GDP estimate for 2013
In its new economic forecast, the Czech National Bank has downgraded the GDP estimate for next year expecting a rise of 0.2 percent, while the previous forecast counted on 0.8 percent growth, the bank’s governor Miroslav Singer said Thursday. This year, the central bank still expects the economy to contract by 0.9 percent, influenced by a significant slowdown in foreign demand and overall sluggish domestic demand. Next year, a gradual revival of foreign demand will be offset by the impact of public finance consolidation; Miroslav Singer added the country would only register a noticeable growth rate in 2014.
Czech household debt up by 1.9 billion in September
The debt of Czech households in September increased by 1.9 billion crowns to reach the total of 1 trillion and 145 billion crowns, according to figures by the Czech National Bank released on Wednesday. The debt of Czech companies in September rose by 16.6 billion crowns, and amount to a total of 964.3 billion crowns. Analysts say that despite the increase, debt among both Czech households and companies remains the lowest in Europe.
Trade unions protest against bill banning expropriation of land for mining
This week, some 2,000 trade union members from a leading Czech mining company, Czech Coal, staged a protest outside the government building in Prague against a bill that will ban the expropriation of land for mining. The draft legislation has already been passed by Parliament and is to be signed into law by the president. The protesters said that the bill would lead to a decline in mining and to a loss of jobs, particularly in the economically-depressed region of northern Bohemia. The environmental group Greenpeace however accused the protesters of promoting the interests of Czech Coal management as they did not react, for example, to massive layoffs by the firm in the past.
Health workers see salaries capped
A new health insurance directive for 2013 which will cap the salaries of doctors and health workers was revealed by Health Minister Leoš Heger this week. Mr Heger expressed regret over the plan but said the system was running on a deficit which had to be eliminated. The directive also limits health care expenses and obliges individual health insurance companies to spend only the amount they levy on health insurance payments. The move is in breach of last year’s agreement between the ministry and doctors’ unions according to which the salaries were to grow by 10 percent next year.
Doctors to stage protest
In related news, the chairman of the Czech Doctors’ Union, Martin Engel, revealed on Monday that hospital doctors across the Visegrad 4 will stage a symbolic protest event on November 20 to mark high dissatisfaction with current salaries and other conditions within the healthcare sector. Speaking to journalists he said the protest would last roughly half-an-hour and would not affect patients. Doctors are unhappy over current salaries and what they see as ‘resignation’ by the Health Ministry allegedly allowing health insurance companies to dictate terms of treatment and coverage. Doctors in state hospitals now earn average salaries of more than 57,500 crowns a month; the average monthly salary in the country last year was less than 25,000.
Central bank vice-governor, president, slam idea of greater EU banking supervision
Both vice-governor of the Czech National Bank Vladimír Tomšík and the country’s president, Václav Klaus, this week came out against the aim of a new single banking supervisor in the EU being established, warning such a move would place restrictions on the powers of countries’ central banks. Speaking at a seminar at the Centre for Economics and Politics this week, the president slammed the plan as “nonsense” with the “sole aim of changing the status quo in all areas”, while Mr Tomšík said he was certain a banking union would limit national banks and could prove potentially damaging, affecting financial stability and the health of domestic banks. Mr Klaus and the vice-governor are far from alone in their opposition to increased supervisor: Prime Minister Petr Nečas has made clear that the Czech Republic will veto the proposal.