In this week’s Business News: public tender bill wins lower house backing; profits from farm sector slump; Škoda Auto sets record February sales; inflation falls back in February; country on wrong tracks for rail corridors
New public tender bill passes first reading
A new on law on holding public tenders was passed in the lower house of parliament at first reading on Wednesday. Among the changes proposed are greater scope for the tender organizer to include other factors in the evaluation rather than just the lowest price. It also allow bidders with a poor past record to be disqualified and sets a 10,000 payment for appeals against tender decisions made to the competition office. The bill was originally supposed to be passed last week but was caught up in a arguments about whether to limit the influence of billionaire businessmen in politics and whether to disqualify them from public tenders. The bill is an attempt to put some order in the conflict over how to frame clear, effective, and fair tender rules. Opponents though says it paves the way for corruption.
Farm sector profits cut by a third in 2015
The Czech agricultural sector last year saw overall profits slide dramatically from the record year of 2014, according to the Czech Statistical Office. Profits for the sector dropped by around 27 percent to around 16.9 billion. The main factor was lower prices for goods, in particular milk and pork but earnings were also affected by the drought over the summer. Overall sales in the sector amounted to 127 billion crowns with crops making up around 75 billion crowns of that. The Agricultural Association, which uses different figures and calculations, says profit more than halved last year to 9 million crowns from 19 billion.
West Europe, China boost for Škoda Auto sales
The country’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto has announced its best ever February for worldwide sales. The manufacturer racked up total sales of 78,800 over the month, 3.6 percent more than in 2015. Sales in Western Europe and China were particularly strong. Škoda was also helped by the launch of new models of the top of the range Superb and down range Fabia.
Inflation recedes in February
The rate of year-on-year inflation slowed in February to 0.5 percent from January’s 0.6 percent, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office released on Wednesday. One of the main factors for the slowdown were weaker price rises for alcohol and tobacco and more moderate cost increases for utilities and housing. Prices rose 0.1 month-on-month. The inflation figure is well below the target rate of the Czech National Bank of 2.0 percent.
Spending watchdog attacks rail corridor roll-out
The Czech spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has released a critical report on the progress of renovation and improvements of some of the country’s key rail corridors. The report points out that a series of projects approved in 2001 and 2002 were originally supposed to be completed by 2010 but now look they will not finished until 2021. It added that the costs of one kilometre of new track was sometime three times the expense of the cheapest and that standard cost evaluations were only introduced at the start of 2015. In the remains of that year that move already saved 23.2 billion crowns.