The mining firm Czech Coal has accused its employees of embezzling at least 100 million crowns worth of coal. In a statement released on Wednesday, the company said an internal audit found the staff of its sales department had for years been “severely underpriced” coal to trading firms, some of which had ties to its employees. Czech Coal will close down its entire sales department as a result, and is going to file for criminal proceedings to be launched against those responsible.
It is the country’s most smelly specialty – Olomoucké tvarůžky – dubbed by foreign visitors as “the stinky cheese of Olomouc” is not something you can easily overlook. Its pungent odor hits you the minute you open the fridge and will render you a social outcast several hours after consuming it. However many consider it to be one of the country’s biggest delicacies and the Czech Republic fought and won a six-year war with Germany and Austria over a protected geographical status trademark.
Despite gloomy news and grim forecasts almost all around these days one sector of the economy - namely the automotive industry – is in top gear. In 2011, two out of three manufacturers – Hyundai and Škoda Auto exceeded previous expectations, and while TPCA suffered a drop in production, all three together produced a record 1,186,000 vehicles. And they are gearing up for an equally good year in 2012, reading to launch mid-priced new or revamped models aimed at both the domestic market and markets abroad.
In today’s business news: Consumer prices have risen by 4.7 percent following a VAT hike, the American Anheuser-Bush purchases the Budějovický měšťanský brewery in hopes of improving its chances in an ongoing trademark dispute, public health insurer VZP may see a budget deficit of up to three billion Czech crowns in 2012, regular and diesel fuel reach record prices, and the forecast for the Czech construction sector for 2012 is the worst among the Visegrad Four.
Czech industrial output accelerated its annual growth in November to 5.4 percent from October´s 1.7 percent, the Czech Statistical Office said Friday. Seasonally adjusted industrial output rose by 2.7 percent month on month. The results were influenced by a long-term positive development in the automotive industry as well as by cumulative completion of orders with a longer production cycle in the engineering industry and the production of heavy transport technology, statisticians said.
The EU’s debt crisis, energy issues and the state of bilateral relations topped the agenda of a meeting between French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the visiting Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday. The French Areva is one of the bidders for the contract on the completion of the Czech nuclear power plant at Temelin. The two officials reportedly also discussed new possibilities in the field of scientific and technological cooperation. Prime Minister Nečas is also due to meet with French President Nikolas Sarkozy on Friday evening.
In this week’s business news: An increase of the lower category VAT has gone into effect, Czech online discount sites see steep increases in sales, hard liquor consumption is on the decline, Škoda Auto has sold a record number of cars in 2011, and the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority says that 15 percent of food products it inspected in 2011 failed to meet its quality standards.
What appears to be gross bureaucratic incompetence may cost the Czech Republic billions of crowns. The country’s belated bid to become a party in the ongoing criminal case against the former managers of the Czech mining firm Mostecká uhelná, involving billions of crowns now frozen in Swiss bank accounts - has been thrown out by a Swiss court, leaving the Czechs out in the cold.
Prague City Hall introduced a “click through budget” programme on Tuesday that allows viewers to check on the details of the city’s budget and search through the earnings and expenditures of individual sectors of town hall. The system allows for example for those interested to browse the police income from the city coffers and see what the money is used for, and how much is devoted to what purposes. In presenting the application, Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda noted that the programme was not mandated by any regulation and was the city’s own initiative for combating corruption. NERV, which proposed the idea, has according to the mayor also recommended the clickable budget for the state level.