President Klaus vetoes regional hospital bill; Czech economy posted GDP growth of 5.1 percent in 2Q; Market research survey shows growing disparity in purchasing power between Bohemia and Moravia; South Korean automaker Sungwoo Hitech to build $105m plant here; Czech Republic building highways at fastest rate ever, but at a greater cost than many European countries
President Vaclav Klaus this week vetoed a bill that would have prohibited regional hospitals from converting to commercial entities. The bill was put forth by the ruling centre-left Social Democratic party, which argues that if privatised, hospitals would concentrate on offering lucrative treatments, and the level of general health care would suffer. The regions, which are controlled by centre-right parties, welcomed the presidential veto. Governor Petr Bendl of the Central Bohemia region said that if the private sector is not allowed into health care, some facilities will have to be closed. The regional governors have said they will turn to the Constitutional Court if Parliament overrides Klaus' veto.
The Czech economy is growing faster than that of its fellow new EU member states in Central Europe. According to fresh data from the statistical office, the Czech Republic posted a GDP growth of 5.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, and grew faster than both Hungary and Poland. For the first time in 17 months, the Czech Republic also kept pace with Slovakia, which last year introduced a 19 percent flat tax. While the Minister of Industry and Trade, Milan Urban, said the Czech economy is a tiger that has gotten out of its cage, opposition Civic Democrat politicians have said the growth is "unsustainable" as it has been driven by "excessive" public spending.
According to a new survey by the market research agencies GfK Praha and Incoma Research, the five richest regions in the Czech Republic are all within Bohemia, which makes up the Western half of the country. The survey found that Prague and the capital's surroundings has a purchasing-power that is 133 percent of the national average. The GfK-Incoma survey, which has been conducted every two years since 1995, found that the disparity between Bohemia and Moravia, which makes up the eastern half of the country, has been growing slowly but steadily over the past decade. Aside from Prague, the four regions with the highest average purchasing-power levels were Pilsen, Karlovy Vary and Cheb.
The South Korean automaker Sungwoo Hitech plans to build a new plant in the Czech Republic. The company is set to invest 2.5 billion crowns, or roughly 105 million US dollars, into the new facility, which will manufacture car-body frames. These will then mainly be shipped to the company's plant in Slovakia, where the Kia economy models are made. Sungwoo Hitech plans to hire some one thousand workers in the Czech Republic. The government agency charged with attracting foreign investment, CzechInvest, said it expects Sungwoo Hitech's move to bring additional South Korean investment here.
The Czech Republic is building superhighways faster now than at any time
in the past. A total of 18 kilometres of new expressway segments are due
to open this year with another 72 kilometres of new roads opening in 2006.
An international comparison has shown that highway construction costs in
the Czech Republic are relatively high. Whereas annual spending of 1.67
billion US dollars here results in about 90 kilometres of highway, the
money would go nearly twice as far in Norway and three times as far in
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