Czech annual inflation remains unchanged at 1.7 percent, which is in line with market expectations and slightly below the forecast of the Czech National Bank (1.8 percent). Consumer prices rose by 0.1 on the month in April, driven by the higher prices of clothing, footwear, alcohol and tobacco products. On the other hand, the price of foodstuffs, primarily pastry and dairy products, decreased slightly. Separate data released by the Czech Labour Ministry on Friday showed the April jobless rate at 7.7 percent down from 8.0 percent.
In this week’s Business News: The grey economy in the Czech Republic is estimated to be 16% of the GDP; Average fuel prices have gone done for the fifth week in a row; The Czech energy company Enrgo-Pro has been fined by the Bulgarian anti-monopoly agency; Unemployment sees a small decline to 7.7% in April, due to more seasonal positions; A group of international solar energy investors have filed an arbitration suit against the Czech Republic; Czech and Poles want to oppose planned EU legislation curbing cigarette sales.
Forty-five people have died in the Czech Republic as a result of drinking illegal spirits containing the poison methanol, a police spokesperson said on Tuesday. There were a series of deaths last summer, causing the minister of health to impose a ban on the sale of all spirits for a fortnight. Over 130 people have suffered health problems, including blindness, as a consequence of drinking the bootleg booze. After the introduction of safety measures, the number of cases fell, though seven have been recorded since the start of this year, with most resulting in death. In all seven people are being investigated in connection with the matter; they face jail terms of 12 to 20 years, or even life, if found guilty.
In a meeting in Prague on Monday, the Czech and Polish agriculture ministers addressed a long-running dispute over the quality of Polish food imports to the Czech Republic. In what may prove to be the first step to defusing the row, the Czech agriculture minister, Petr Bendl, and his Polish counterpart, Stanisław Kalemba, have agreed to boost cooperation and to improve the exchange of information between their food inspection agencies.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police has launched investigation of IT contracts at the Agriculture Ministry. The police have moved on the basis of a criminal complaint, filed by the country’s Supreme Auditing Office earlier this year. The auditors say that between 2005 and 2011, the ministry spent around one billion crowns on technologies and equipment it did not need, and bought them without a tender as required by law.
This week in Business News: The construction sector in the Czech Republic is expected to restart growth in 2014; Škoda Yeti was voted the most popular car by British car owners; ČEZ has asked two remaining contenders in the Temelín expansion deal to submit better offers; Economic confidence is down in April, after two straight months of improvement; The Federation of Food and Drink Industries wants to introduce stricter rules on product labeling; Trade unions and employers reach no agreement on minimum wage increase.
Going by the name Pivní Filosof, or the Beer Philosopher, Max Bahnson blogs in English and Spanish about all aspects of Czech pivo and beer culture. The Argentinean, who has little time for those who look down on popular, mass-produced brews, has written a guide to Prague’s pubs and is currently working on a second book.
The Czech Republic’s self-sufficiency in pork last year dropped below 50 percent, the country’s Agrarian Chamber said on Wednesday. After a temporary rise, the numbers of pigs bred in the Czech Republic registered a further decrease at the beginning of this year, the chamber said. The producers blame the trend on the high prices of fodder, mainly soya and wheat, which are not reflected in prices of pigs offered by meat processing companies. Another reason behind the dropping numbers of pigs is the fact that consumers tend to prefer cheaper imported meat over more expensive meat produced in the Czech Republic.
A friend of my wife’s once said the good about the Czech Republic is that wherever you go from here, the food is always better. That’s probably no longer true, if it ever was, but Czechs have certainly had a tough time adapting the often appalling communist-era fare into a modern cuisine. But in some ways, such as in the quality of groceries, Czechs are still stuck in the past.
The drawn-out Czech-Polish dispute over the quality of food imports this week reached a new level after Polish officials accused the Czech authorities and media of waging a campaign aimed at hurting Polish food sales in the country. Czech officials, meanwhile, complain about poor quality of some Polish foodstuffs, and say inspections prove they fail to meet set standards much more often that Czech products.
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