In this week’s business news: Industrial output has grown for the fourth consecutive month; The prime minister has announced that the interim government will not decide on coal mining limits; Tow more people have been charged in connection to the privatization of mining company OKD; Unemployment figures increased slightly in November; The Czech state debt has decreased in the past nine months.
Czech industrial output grew by 3.5 percent in October, while adjusted for the difference in work days it had a 6 percent growth year-on-year, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office. This is the fourth consecutive month of industrial growth for the Czech Republic, which is raising economists’ hopes that industry will pull the country safely away from the recent recession. The October growth has been mostly spurred by the automotive industry, as well as related sectors like metal manufacturing and energy. On the other hand, weaker food and electronic production pulled the recent numbers down.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok announced this week that his caretaker government will not be deciding whether to break the coal mining limits. The decision will be left to the newly forming cabinet, made up of representatives of parties elected in October. After visiting the north Bohemian town of Litvínov, though, Mr. Rusnok did indicate that he thinks the mining limit will be broken eventually. Surpassing the mining limits in regions like north Bohemia would mean deterioration of the local environment, decrease in real estate prices, but at the same time an even further loss of jobs.
The anti-corruption police has decided to prosecute two more people in connection to the case of the privatization of the black coal mining company OKD. One of the two suspects accused is Pavel Kuta, former deputy chairman of the national property fund, who signed the 2004 contract selling state shares to OKD. The police suspect that the 7.6 billion for which the company was sold was purposefully overvalued. The anti-corruption police, who have been investigating the case since 2011, estimated damages at 3.4 billion crowns, and has already indicted Rudolf Doucha last year for giving false testimony and untruthful expert opinion.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic grew by a tenth of a percentage point in November to 7.7 percent. This means that nine thousand more people were looking for jobs last month than the month before. According to the Labor Ministry, there were more than 1,500 fewer job vacancies in November than the previous month, and about 1,300 fewer than a year ago. There was a total of 57,000 people looking for work, with about 15 people per one vacancy on average across the country. Though, for example in the north Moravian Karvina, the local labor office registered 79 people per vacancy.
According to statistics released by the Finance Ministry, the Czech state debt decreased by about 14 billion crowns in the first nine months of this year, to around 1.65 trillion crowns. For the third-quarter mark, this is the first decrease in government debt since the 1990s. At the same time, compared to a year ago, the debt grew by about one billion crowns. The Finance Ministry is expecting the state debt to grow to more than 1.7 trillion crowns by the end of the year. It has promised to release a new economic strategy for next year on Monday.