In Business News this week: the Czech cabinet approves a draft budget for next year; CEZ has problems in Albania – and a bid for a power plant at home; the Czech Republic buys into the Transalpine Pipeline, with a view to reducing reliance on Russian oil; e-tailers in the Czech Republic are to join forces next Tuesday for a day of sales with free delivery; and the “Absurdity of the Year” is announced.
The Czech cabinet this week approved a draft budget for next year with a deficit of CZK 100 billion, or just over USD 5 billion. The deficit should equal 2.9% of gross domestic product, down from the figure of just above 3% projected for this year. The budget will go before the Chamber of Deputies in its first reading next Wednesday.
CEZ has been having difficulties in Albania, where it was forced by a court to resume electricity supplies to the country’s state-owned water facilities last weekend. The Czech energy giant had cut the power as the water facilities owed it EUR 38 million, a spokesperson said. CEZ this week applied for EUR 60 million in compensation under a World Bank guarantee as its investment in Albania’s power distributor – with which it has been in dispute for some time – appeared to be heading towards an end.
In other CEZ-related news, the company this week received a bid of CZK 16.5 billion from Czech Coal for its Počerady coal-fired power plant in north Bohemia. The amount paid would depend on whether carbon credits are included in the sale said a spokesperson for Czech Coal, which supplies brown coal to CEZ and is seeking to expand into electricity production. CEZ has until the end of the year to reach a decision.
Staying with power, the Czech Republic’s state-owned crude oil transporting company Mero this week acquired a five-percent stake in the Transalpine Pipeline, or TAL, from the German unit of Royal Dutch Shell. The move is intended to boost the Czech Republic’s energy security by reducing its dependence on Russian crude oil. Last month Russia diverted crude shipments from its Druzhba pipeline, leaving Czech oil refiners having to rely solely on other sources. TAL links Italy’s Adriatic coast with Austria and Germany.
E-tailers in the Czech Republic will join forces next Tuesday for a day of sales with free delivery. The news website aktualne.cz reported this week that over 400 Czech online stores will take part in the promotion, which is intended to boost sales in the pre-Christmas period and follows a model adopted in the United States. Czechs spend an average of CZK 300 million a day on online purchases in the run-up to the holiday season.
A regulation under which casual workers are forced to undergo a medical test even if they will only hold a job for a single day has been voted the “Absurdity of the Year” in an annual poll conducted by Czech Republic’s main business daily Hospodářské noviny. If companies hire the same person for casual work at a later date they are required to again acquire a doctor’s cert. Failure to comply with the rule can lead to a fine of CZK 2 million.
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