A group of Czech farmers whose holdings include land at the proposed site of a new 1.2 billion dollar car plant appear ready to accept a land swap -- and unspecified compensation from the government - to relocate. The site in Ostrava is the South Korean carmaker Hyundai's first choice for building its new plant. The farmers had been reluctant to move and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek had hinted last month that the state could force them to accept a deal. The stand off mirrored an obstacle that Kia Motors, a Hyundai affiliate, faced in 2002 when it tried to buy land for its first European factory, in neighbouring Slovakia.
Czechs are setting aside far less of their savings- half as much as they were a decade ago. According to fresh data from the Czech Statistical Office, the savings rate dropped to 7.3 percent this year from 14.2 percent in 1995. Low interest rates have contributed to the drop, as loans became cheaper. Household borrowing during the past decade has increased almost tenfold. At 7.8 percent, the Czech household savings level is now below the European Union average.
The budget committee of Parliament has proposed an amendment to the tax law that would substantially lower the penalties for unpaid tax, now among the highest in Europe at up to 73 percent of the overdue sum. The amendment calls for charging a flat 20 percent of the unpaid tax. Many businesses risk an audit rather than pay the penalties and deputies believe lowering the rate would encourage slackers to come forward, and boost state revenues.
Corrupt officials are a far greater problem for Czech exporters than terrorists, according to a survey of 250 Czech firms by the package forwarders DHL and market research firm GfK Praha. One in five respondents said they had encountered corruption in a county to which they supply products. Only seven percent of those polled said they had to take precautions due to the threat of terrorism.
Year-on-year inflation rose to 2.6 percent in October, the fastest growth so far this year, the Czech Statistical Office said on Tuesday. Inflation had reached 2.2 percent in September. Higher fuel costs were the main reason for the jump. Economists now predict inflation could reach 4 percent in 2006 and expect the Czech National Bank to raise interest rates slightly in January.
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