A final decision is expected to be announced shortly on a huge foreign investment to the Czech Republic. A Czech delegation is on its way back from South Korea, where it has been finalizing details on plans for a major Hyundai assembly plant with an annual capacity of 300,000 cars. The Korean car-maker seems almost certain to choose this country, and several sites in the eastern part of the Czech Republic have been prepared. David Vaughan spoke to auto journalist Lyle Frink about the project and asked him what's at stake.
The state agency for attracting investment, CzechInvest, had some positive news on Monday: last year the agency secured a record number of investments, worth a total of over three billion US dollars. And if a deal to build a huge Hyundai car plant to Moravia comes to fruition, this year could be even better.
Jeremy Rifkin is one of the most controversial American academics. The economist, philosopher, university professor and writer has published 17 books on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, and has also been an advisor to many European politicians, including the former EU Commission president, Romano Prodi. David Vaughan caught up with him when he came to Prague towards the end of last year to plug the Czech edition of his newest book The European Dream - how Europe's vision of the future is quietly eclipsing the American
The Czech Republic currently has several institutions that promote it abroad. CzechInvest and CzechTrade, for example, focus on business and economics. CzechTourism is self-explanatory, and the country's numerous Czech Centres around the world mainly concentrate on culture. But the work of these agencies has never been co-ordinated. Until now that is. On Wednesday the government announced that Czech-Canadian Otto Jelinek is to become the country's first International Co-ordinator for Economic Activities.
In Business News: the National Bank governor warns the government's spending programme for 2006 could jeopardise plans to introduce the euro in 2010; the cabinet rejects an opposition plan to cut bureaucracy for small companies; employers will have to pay the first two weeks' sick pay; the Czech IT market grows by a tenth in 2005; and while over 5 percent of Czechs have broadband internet, plans for free WiFi in Prague meet opposition.
Just four days left to Christmas and no doubt many of you are still desperately running around the shops trying to do the last of your Christmas shopping. This year Czechs are borrowing more than ever to buy presents for their nearest and dearest - according to some figures Czechs will borrow some 415 billion crowns from banks alone.
There is reported to have been a breakthrough in talks with landowners in the Nosovice region in Moravia-Silesia, opening the way for a deal with the Hyundai car manufacturer who favours this particular site for the construction of a new plant. The governor of the region Evzen Tosenovsky ran into serious problems persuading some of the landowners to sell. After announcing that he would halt preparations for the industrial zone if a deal was not reached by Friday, the negotiations are said to have gained new impetus. Hyundai's decision on the location of the new plant is expected by the end of the year.
A new survey released by Intrum Justitia has revealed that when it comes to payments Czech firms are the second-worst in Europe. Of seventeen countries examined only Portugal fared worse. According to the survey, among developed countries, the Czech Republic has three times the number of cases where creditors never receive payment. Justitia's director indicated on Tuesday that over two years of study the Czech Republic had improved somewhat on the risk index, but not enough to see a change in the country's position overall on the ratings ladder.
In Business News: the Czech crown reached a record high against the euro this week; the average gross monthly wage grew to almost 19,000 crowns in the third quarter; the anti-monopoly office has imposed a fine of over 8 million dollars on Cesky Telecom for abusing its market dominance; and the prices of gas, electricity and heating are set to rise from the start of next year.
Former Prime Minister Gross, Trade Minister Urban asked to testify before Parliament on Unipetrol privatisation; CTS Corporation of the US to invest $22m in new electronic components plant in Ostrava region; German retailer Edeka may exit Czech Republic, denies plans to sell its Polish, Austrian and Danish outlets; Police bust illegal alcohol production and distribution network; CNB, financial associations object to Parliament provision in bankruptcy bill compensating holders of anonymous accounts; Health Minister Rath wants Parliament to investigate
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