The Czech government on Wednesday distributed about 700 million crowns to be used in preparations for the country's EU presidency next year. Ministries will need a further one billion crowns, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra says. The costs of the Czech EU presidency's preparations and organisation have been put at 3.3 billion crowns, of which 1.9 billion should be allotted from the state budget and 1.4 billion from particular ministries.
The Czech Republic will hold the EU presidency in the first half of 2009. Under the motto "Europe Without Barriers", the government intends to focus on competitiveness, deregulation, a liberal commercial policy, and the four fundamental EU freedoms - the free movement of persons, services, capital and commodities.
Czech firms, including construction firm OHL ZS Brno, rails producer Trinecke zelezarny, and transport equipment producer AZD Praha, are hoping to take part in the modernisation of Bulgaria's railway infrastructure. Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Martin Riman said the companies interested have been engaged in similar reconstruction projects in the Czech Republic for the last fifteen years. Bulgaria wants to modernise its outdated railway network on the main land route between Europe and the Middle East using money from EU funds.
Meanwhile, Czech power giant CEZ, which already owns three distribution firms and the Varna power station in Bulgaria is interested in the modernisation of a thermal power plant in Galati, Romania. The Galati facility is 100-percent owned by Termoelectrica which operates thermal power plants in the country. CEZ spokeswoman Eva Novakova told the CTK news agency that Termoelectrica is seeking a strategic partner to reconstruct the facility or construct new resources in the locality. On Tuesday, CEZ also announced its plan to take part in a tender to build a new gas- or black-coal-fired unit with an output of 400 to 500 MW in Borzesti in Romania.
Czech industrial companies paid the highest wages to people working in coke and nuclear fuel production last year, followed by the energy sector and raw materials mining. In contrast, workers in leather processing and the textile industry earned the lowest wages. The Czech industry accounts for around one-third of the country's GDP whereas in the European Union, the share of industry on economy is around one-fifth. In the past twelve months, the number of people working in the industrial sector rose by 1.9 percent. Roughly one in three Czechs now work in the sector.
Three Czech businessmen in four have had to deal with corruption and two
in five have paid bribes, the results of a poll suggest. The survey of
1,166 companies was conducted by the Czech Economic Chamber. Half of those
questioned were ready to pay a bribe to secure a deal. Corruption is
widespread in the Czech Republic and not confined to public tenders but
also affects small and medium-sized enterprises.
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