In this week’s Business News roundup: Car production in Czech Republic reaches all-time record in 2015; Finance minister wants bill on electronic registers approved in January; Czech nuclear plants see significant production drop; President slams government for failure to draw 35 billion crowns; Česká rafinérská reaches deal with Mero ČR on shipping and storage of crude.
Car production in the Czech Republic grew by 4.5 percent last year, reaching an all-time record for the year. Close to 1.3 million cars were manufactured in the country in 2015, which is about 50,000 more than in the previous year, the head of the Czech Automotive Industry Association, Antonín Šípek, announced on Thursday. Bus production grew by 30 percent last year, reaching a record of 4,200 vehicles. Škoda Auto remained the biggest car producer with nearly 700,000 cars, followed by Toyota, Peugeot, and Citroen plant, which recorded the biggest year-on-year growth of 9.7 percent.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has said he wants the bill on electronic registers approved by Parliament by the end of January. The finance minister said the coalition government would do everything in its power to see this come about, even if it had to use its majority in the lower house to end the protracted debate on the bill and call a vote. The three ruling parties have enough votes to see the bill through. Meanwhile, the opposition right wing parties which have used filibustering tactics to block the bill for months threaten to take the matter to the Constitutional Court if the coalition enforces a vote.
The turnover of Czech internet retailers in 2015 rose by 20 percent year-on year to a record amount of 25 billion crowns, the Association for Electronic Commerce announced on Thursday. This year, domestic e-commerce turnover is expected to grow at least by another 15 percent, reaching 100 billion crowns. According to the head of APEK, Jan Vetyška, the Christmas season contributed to nearly a third of the overall sales. Consumer electronics, mobile phones, toys and clothing were traditionally among the best-selling goods.
Czech energy giant ČEZ announced on Monday a sharp drop in electricity production from its two nuclear plants, Dukovany and Temelín, in 2015. The total net production from the two plants last year came to 26.83 TWh compared with around 30.32 TWh a year earlier. The biggest production drop came from Dukovany, where 2015 power production reached 12.60 TWh, around 2.77 TWh down on the 2014 output figure of 15.37 TWh. Three out of the four Dukovany units were closed from mid-September when flaws in X-ray safety checks on pipes by a sub-contractor were revealed.
In his interview for Czech Radio Plus on Monday, President Zeman criticized the government for failing to draw around 35 billion crowns in EU funds. He suggested the failure to draw the money was the result of laxness and incompetence. Originally, before corrective measures were taken, the country stood to lose up to one hundred billion. The president maintained that ‘even’ 35 billion crowns was an enormous amount. Over the period of 2007 to 2013, the Czech Republic had at its disposal the equivalent of 800 billion crowns from EU funds.
Crude oil processing company Česká rafinérská, owned by petrochemical holding Unipetrol, has reached a deal on the shipping and storage of crude with state owned Mero ČR. The move was confirmed by Mero spokesman Mikuláš Duda. The new contract is valid as of January 1, 2016. Mero is the owner and operator of the Czech section of the Družba crude oil pipeline and the IKL crude oil pipeline and is the only transporter of crude oil into the Czech Republic. Unipetrol CEO Marek Świtajewski said on Monday that the open-ended contract was the result of extensive negotiations which began in 2010.