In Business News: Farmers estimate losses at 2.6 billion crowns; International centre to explore medical use of cannabis; Amazon plans new centre on edge of Prague; Arms manufacturer Česká Zbrojovka signs agreement with Slovak Interior Ministry; Central bank upholds weak crown policy.
Czech farmers estimate the damages caused by this year’s drought at 2.6 billion crowns, the president of the Agrarian Chamber, Miroslav Toman, told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. He also said that the Agriculture Ministry has prepared a financial injection of 600 million crowns that will be distributed among the farmers hit by the hottest and driest year on record. The harvest of corn, beet root, and potatoes, took the biggest hit, but fruits and vegetables and hops were also affected. The government’s national strategy in coping with drought should be concluded by 2016.
A center for research into the use of cannabis in medicine has been opened in Prague. The International Centre for Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute has been created with the help of 500 million crown donations from the US and Canada. Health minister Svatopluk Němeček said the sum represents the biggest foreign investment in Czech medicine in recent years. The centre has been tasked to explore the use of cannabis and its components both with regard to existing medical knowledge and the experiences of patients. Although legal for some conditions, Czech doctors are said to be still cautious about prescribing medicinal cannabis.
US-based Amazon is proposing to locate its European centre for returned goods on a site on the outskirts of Prague. The site earmarked for the giant hall is at Horní Pocernice with the possibility of 3,000 workers on the site. Around 1,000 workers could be located from Amazon’s existing site at Dobrovíz, which would remain as a logistics centre for the e-commerce giant.
The arms and military equipment producer Česká Zbrojovka has signed an agreement with the Slovak Interior Ministry to provide the country’s police and other armed forces with over 26,000 guns. Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák announced the news at a press conference on Thursday. The Slovak Interior Ministry is set to pay 383 million crowns (over 14 million Euro) for the items. Česká Zbrojovka has won the tender, the biggest of its kind in Slovakia’s history, together with the Austrian company Glock. The first dispatch of guns should be delivered to Slovakia at the start of next year.
The Czech National Bank board on Wednesday confirmed its commitment to intervene on foreign exchange markets until the end of 2016 in order to weaken the crown and maintain an exchange rate of CZK 27/EUR. The board also agreed to keep interest rates, now at a historic low, unchanged. The two-week repo rate will be maintained at 0.05%, the discount rate at 0.05% and the Lombard rate at 0.25%.