Cesky Telecom reports that it has recovered from its 2003 loss and had a net profit last year. The fixed-line operator said this was due to growing sales and the consolidation of its highly profitable mobile division, Eurotel. Cesky Telecom, which is being privatised, reported a profit in 2004 of $243 million. Meanwhile, Tiscali has become a member of the consortium headed by Czech financial firm PPF to bid for a 51.1 percent stake in Cesky Telecom. Three international telecommunication companies — Belgacom, SwissCom and Telefonica — are among the bidders. The Czech government's privatization agency has received five preliminary bids it total; Cesky Telecom's value is estimated at about $2.6 billion.
The government and regions owe almost 8 billion crowns — the equivalent of nearly $350 million — to the owners of land taken up by roads and motorways. The Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, acting on a formal complaint to his office by land owners, told members of parliament this week that the Transport Ministry's books showed the debt concerned land covering 57 million square metres. He also chastised MPs for not having acted on relevant proposals debated in 2003. Legislators have since asked the Cabinet to submit a report on a solution by June 30.
The Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, said after a meeting in Paris with President Jacques Chirac that there is a good chance the French work restrictions for Czechs will be eliminated next year. This would mean that the original seven-year period imposed by the French on the Czech Republic — and possibly other new European Union member states — would be cut by two years.
The private companies Microsoft, Fujitsu, Siemens, Cisco, Deloitte and CSOB are sponsoring a seven-member team charged with drawing up a plan for trimming down the Czech Republic's bureaucracy. The daily Hospodarske Noviny reports that the plan, known as "eStat", is essentially funding campaign research for the main opposition Civic Democrat Party. The party says the programme is fully independent.
Czech industrial production rose by 8.3 percent year-on-year in December, the Czech Statistical Office reports. That's just slightly less than in the previous month and also below market forecasts for December growth of around 10.5 percent. Analysts said rises in industrial output had been helped by the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union in May. However, some analysts warn that weak growth in Germany does not bode well for the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, the statistical office also released data showing real wages growing at a year-on-year rate of 1.8 percent in December with nominal wages up 4.6 percent year-on-year.
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