Business briefs


Over 85 percent of company managers believe PM Gross 'untrustworthy', 75 percent support 'flat tax'

Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, photo: CTKPrime Minister Stanislav Gross, photo: CTK The Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, is due to resign on Monday: and it's high time that he did, at least according to the majority of managers responding to a recent poll. 207 out of 237 managers said Mr Gross was "untrustworthy" and had done a poor job of managing the government. In the same poll, conducted by the Median agency, three out of four respondents said they favoured the introduction of a "flat tax" - something the opposition Civic Democrats have been pushing for - while half of those polled said the management of publicly traded companies should be required to disclose their salaries and bonuses, a proposal favoured by the ruling Social Democrats.

New Cabinet to focus on pension reform, lower taxes, bankruptcy and conflict-of-interest laws

Meanwhile, the draft agreement on the formation of a new three-party government - with the current Minister for Local Development, Jiri Paroubek, as Prime Minsiter -- identifies pension reform, lower taxes on employees, new bankruptcy and conflict-of-interest laws, and the 2006 state budget as the Cabinet's top priorities.

Metro line to be extended —almost—to Ruzyne airport

In other news, after years of sometimes heated debate, an agreement has been reached on how to extend the Prague metro line to the international airport, Ruzyne. Under the Prague City Hall's new plan, the metro's "green line" will stop short of the airport itself; the terminus will be a "park and ride" station. Along the way will be eight new stations west of the Dejvicka stop, covering 14 kilometres. Work on the line should be completed by the year 2018. The project will cost some $1.6 billion and Prague is looking to secure partial funding from the European Union and the Czech Airports Authority.

EU anti-trust ministers agree to ban certain sales techniques used by hypermarkets

Speaking of the European Union, anti-trust ministers in Brussels have agreed to ban the practice of attracting customers by advertising sales items not in stock in adequate quantities. The French-owned hypermarket Carrefour was taken to task by the Czech Commercial Inspectorate (COI) for such practices last year, and the Czech government had been considering imposing controls. The EU countries will have two years to adopt the measure. In related news, the British-owned hypermarket Tesco has announced it has invested some $110 million into lowering its prices, while Carrefour says an independent study in January found it had the lowest prices among the five hypermarkets operating in the Czech Republic.

Compromise on highway fees agreed in Brussels

EU members also agreed this week on a compromise on highway fees. The Czech Republic will take advantage of the measure to raise fees and to provide frequency discounts that favour domestic truckers. Overall truck traffic has risen by nearly 50 percent since EU accession on May 1 last year. Foreign truckers had favoured Czech highways due to the relatively low cost of transit.