In this week’s business news: Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has presented three different options for state budget cuts, the Labor Ministry has announced a tender for the new welfare payment cards, direct flights between Prague and Abu Dhabi will be launched in September, for the third time this year, a Czech travel agency files for bankruptcy, and a Czech daily writes that Vietnamese small business owners are often blackmailed into paying protection money.
The Czech Republic will not be contributing to a second bailout package for Greece. Confirmation of the news came after late-night talks at an EU leaders' summit in Brussels, at which it was agreed that the joint rescue effort would not involve any commitment from non-eurozone countries. The Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas joined his British counterpart David Cameron in opposing a broad EU rescue effort via a European Financial Stability Mechanism which would have committed all 27 member states to provide loan guarantees. The Czech Republic has in the past taken on such guarantees for Ireland and Portugal but the authorities consider a similar service to Greece to be a much bigger risk.
Czech brewers have established a “beer fund” to fight rising imports of cheap, low-quality beers, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. Members of the fund include Plzeňský Prazdroj, Heineken, Budvar as well as the Czech Beer and Malt Association. Under the motto “Czech beer - Our Beer”, the alliance plans to stage marketing campaigns to draw attention to the issue, and to support the EU’s protected geographical indication for Czech-produced beers. The head of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, František Šámal, said the project should ensure a long-term sustainability of Czech beer. Imports of foreign, mainly Polish beer, increased nearly three times last year, reaching just below one million hectolitres.
In today’s business news: Czech Railways has released an estimate of the damages that the strike caused the company, Prague’s taxi drivers and hotel owners benefit from the transport strike, the metallurgical company ArcelorMittal Ostrava sees profits of 758 million Czech crowns, the Finance Ministry has halted its administrative proceedings against the betting giant Sazka and the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey predicts an increase of employment opportunities by 3 percent in the next quarter.
The number of direct foreign investment projects in the Czech Republic increased last year by 16 percent, according to a survey by the consultancy firm Ernst & Young released on Thursday. In 2010, there were 71 such investments projects in the Czech Republic, placing the country 14th among other European nations. Ernst & Young’s Magdalena Souček said good infrastructure and qualified workforce continued to attract investors. The Czech government’s CzechInvest agency last year intermediated foreign investments of around 16.2 billion crowns, mainly in the country’s manufacturing and IT sectors.
Former CEO of the lottery firm Sazka, Aleš Hušák, who still holds the position of chairman of firm’s board of directors, appealed in Thursday against last week’s decision of a Prague court to declare bankruptcy on Sazka. Mr Hušák was fired as Sazka CEO by the company’s trustee-in-bankruptcy on Tuesday. The company, which got into problems over the construction of a multi-purpose arena in the capital; last week, the firm’s board of creditors approved a loan of 500 million crowns to pay for the company’s operations. The news agency ČTK reported on Thursday that this week, Sazka’s revenues rose by 24 percent compared to the previous week.
The Czech economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the first three months of the year, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on Thursday. The growth was 0.3 percent higher than expected, the office said, adding that it was mainly fuelled by foreign trade with Germany, the Czech Republic’s largest export market. However, some analysts note that the economies of all neighbouring countries grew faster than that of the Czech Republic both in the first quarter of 2011 and the whole of 2010, as lower government spending and household consumption slowed down the Czech growth rate.
The planned demolition of an Art Nouveau building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square is drawing increasing opposition in the form of an on-line petition, while seeing hundreds take part in a protest meeting on Tuesday on the square itself. The building in question, 1601 Opletalova, is not itself a heritage site but is located within a protected area. The owners and developers want to tear the structure down (as well as gut the interiors of two adjacent buildings) to make room for a new commercial centre. Other than the petition, few obstacles stand in
The number of shops owned by members of the Czech Republic’s sizable Vietnamese minority has now risen to around 3,000, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported on Saturday. Vietnamese immigrants own corner shops selling mainly foodstuffs, as well as clothing stores and nail salons. Their combined turnover is around CZK 30 billion a year. While in the past the Vietnamese were known for running market stalls, the newspaper said in a few years they would be doing business almost exclusively in bricks and mortar shops.
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