The Czech economy saw accelerated growth in the first quarter of this year, with GDP reaching 2.9 percent year-on-year. The information was released by the Czech Statistics Office on Tuesday. Analysts had expected slower growth, the Czech News Agency said. The figure was up from 1.9 percent in the final quarter of 2016. The rise has been attributed to stronger international demand supported by increasing household consumption.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats has rejected ANO’s nominee for the post of minister of finance, Alena Schillerová. Mr. Sobotka said on Monday that Ms. Schillerová, who is currently a deputy finance minister, was not unqualified and would represent the “extended arm” of the present occupant of the post, ANO chief Andrej Babiš. He called on ANO to put forward another candidate. The PM has requested that President Miloš Zeman dismiss Mr. Babiš as finance minister but the head of state is as yet holding out on such a move. The ANO head said on Monday that Mr. Sobotka’s position was making it harder to solve the government crisis. He said his party would put forward another name by Wednesday.
President Miloš Zeman has said that he would support deputy finance minister Alena Schillerová's nomination for finance minister if and when the prime minister put her name forward, but leading Social Democrats say her choice would be problematic. Speaking on a TV political debate programme on Sunday, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek pointed out that Schillerová had come out strongly against the investigation of so-called one crown bonds that landed her boss, Andrej Babiš, in trouble; those and other unexplained finances sparked the continuing government crisis and prompted Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to ask for Minister Babiš to be recalled from his post by the head of state. The president is bound by the constitution to comply but delayed the decision until after his return from China. In Beijing, President Zeman said if Ms Schillerová was not the nominee, the government's coalition agreement should be dissolved. The prime minister is to address the situation on Monday.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš has defended the choice of Alena Schillerová as his successor in the post of finance minister should he be recalled from office. Babiš said that Schillerova, who is presently his deputy, is a skilled professional who would ensure a smooth transition and her nomination would mean a quick end to the government crisis. The choice of Schillerová for the post of finance minister was criticized by Foreign Minister Zaorálek of the Social Democrats who expressed doubts as to whether she would take an impartial stand and not try to influence the Financial Administration in conducting an investigation into Andrej Babiš’s finances.
Finance Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš has asked Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to call a meeting of the coalition leaders as soon as possible to discuss the current government crisis, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. Mr Babiš said ANO will propose the name of a new candidate for Finance Minister. Mr Babiš didn’t say, however, if he was willing to leave his post and repeated that he saw no reason for his resignation.
The European Commission has released its spring macro-economic forecast for the Czech Republic, predicting a 2.6 percent growth in 2017 and a 2.7 percent growth next year. The deficit in public spending should be around 0.3 percent of the GDP and inflation is expected to increase from last year’s 0.6 to 2.5 percent. The forecast is more optimistic than that of the Ministry of Finance, which last month lowered the projected growth from 2.6 to 2.5 percent.
The Czech annual inflation rate in April was 2.0 percent, down from 2.6 percent in March, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Wednesday. The monthly rate was unchanged for the third month in a row. Higher prices for clothes and shoes were offset by price decreases for alcoholic drinks and food. Lower food prices were the main factor in the drop in annual inflation as well.
Unemployment in April fell to 4.4 percent from March’s 4.8 percent, the third monthly drop in a row, according to the national labour office. The total numbered of those declared seeking and available for work was just under 327,200, the lowest April figure since 2008. The number of job vacancies stood at just over 159,000.
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