Wholesale electricity prices in the Czech Republic are set to rise by 17.7 percent in 2007. Household prices will increase by up to 6 percent, following a rise of 9 percent this year. The newly announced hikes are the result of an auction this week, in which electricity producer CEZ sold its power production capacity to the highest bidder. CEZ's Alan Svoboda said the final price was no big surprise as Europe's hunger for electricity was on the rise. Similar auctions recently in Hungary and Slovakia saw price rises of 19 and 16 percent respectively.
Industry and Trade Minister Milan Urban (of the Social Democrats) reacted to the news of next year's increase in electricity prices by saying some of CEZ's profits should go to those on low incomes, as a form of compensation. The right-wing Civic Democrats slammed the proposal, which they described as socialistic.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticised the export of Czech arms to Ethiopia, Angola, Nigeria, Columbia and Saudia Arabia. Amnesty says Czech made weapons have been used to kill civilians in those states. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said, however, that the Czech Republic respected international agreements and monitored exports. Last year Czech authorities rejected permission to export arms in nine cases, said Amnesty. Approval was granted in 1,471 cases, the highest number since 1999.
The number of passenger cars registered in the Czech Republic now stands at just over four million, the Association of Automotive Industries announced this week. The average age of cars on the Czech roads is almost 14 years. As for individual models, the most popular is the Skoda Felicia, followed by the old-school Skoda 105/120 and the Skoda Favorit. The Ford Escort is the most popular imported car.
Meanwhile, Skoda Auto announced record profits this week. It netted almost 6.5 billion CZK in the first half of this year, up from around 4 billion in 2005. Sales increased by 12.5 percent.
Exchange offices in the Czech Republic are losing business as more and more tourists use bank cards, Lidove noviny reported. The fall has been dramatic - offices say they are doing just half the business they did last year. But bank cards aren't only reason: more and more Czech shops and restaurants are now accepting euros. There are currently almost 3,000 licensed exchange bureaux in the country - analysts expect 20 to 30 percent of them to close in the next few years.
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Wide range of events in store for Czechs this weekend as 30-year anniversary of Velvet Revolution reaches climax
Hundreds of thousands again gather in Prague to voice their opposition to prime minister
Shabby pub profits from nostalgia
Škoda unveils 4th-generation Octavia ahead of model’s 60th anniversary