Business round-up: Czech Republic reaches 21st spot on Economic Freedom Index; European Commission sees Czech growth at 2.3 percent; Municipal court rejects legal complaint against Prague 7 shopping centre and administrative building.
The Czech Republic has jumped three places on the Index of Economic Freedom, reaching the 21st position among the 178 countries included on the list. The country’s economic freedom score for 2015 is 73.2 out of a maximum 100, which is its best score ever. The Index of Economic Freedom was introduced in 1995 by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. According to the assessment, Hong Kong is the most economically free country, while North Korea was placed at the bottom of the ladder.
The European Commission expects Czech economic growth this year to slow down considerable to around 2.3 percent from an expected 4.5 percent in 2015. The latest figures were released in the Commission’s winter economic prognosis. Growth in 2017 is expected to climb slightly to 2.7 percent. One of the factors curbing Czech growth is lower pumping of EU cash at the start of a new funding period.
The Municipal Court this week rejected a legal complaint by Prague 7 residents who had hoped to block the construction of a shopping and administrative complex on Veletržní Street. The news was released by Václav Matoušek, the head of the firm behind the development project, the British firm Lordship. Permit has been given for construction to begin on lower parking levels of the site but questions remain over the building above ground. The matter is currently being negotiated with the local administration. The local city hall has charged the firm had not met all terms agreed in a contract signed with the previous administration. City Hall has been against the project long-term, as the site was meant to include a memorial and new apartments. The firm had threatened to take the matter to arbitration court but its boss has suggested some headway in talks has been made.
The Czech Republic and Iran are hoping to cooperate more closely in the area of nuclear safety and a meeting between both countries nuclear energy watchdog authorities is planned for later this year, Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Eduard Muřický said at a seminar on Wednesday discussing possibilities of trade with Iran after the lifting of economic sanctions. Czech State Nuclear Safety Authority chairwoman Dana Drábová confirmed to ČTK that a meeting with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, is being planned. No definite date has been set. Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek issued an invitation to Salehi during his visit to Iran in January. In September last year, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek visited Iran in the accompaniment of a business mission. Czech business representatives may also find opportunities in Iran in the area of mining of raw materials, the petrochemical industry, engineering and aircraft industry, Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Tlapa said at Wednesday's seminar.
The Czech Republic’s teachers’ unions have called for a pay rise for teachers and other employees in the education sector by at least 10 percent by 2017, the head of the Czech and Moravian Trade Union of Workers in Education, František Dobšík, said at a press conference on Tuesday, adding that it should be included among the priorities of the Education Ministry. According to Mr Dobšík, teachers’ starting salary should be raised by at least 2,000 crowns to 23,000. The overall amount allocated to the increase of wages would amount to some eight billion crowns. The unions want to discuss their demands with Finance Minister Andrej Babiš and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.