The Czech government on Wednesday approved legislation granting the country’s intelligence services the right to access tax returns, the news agency ČTK reported. The government believes the move should help limit economic threats to the country and reveal the ownership structures of non-transparent firms. Currently, Czech law only allows tax authorities to provide information to the secret services. The draft legislation is yet to be debated in the Czech Parliament.
The state-owned Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam has opened its first office in the European Union here in the Czech Republic. Located in Prague’s upmarket Vinohrady district, the BIDV office is not a full-fledged branch, as the bank is yet to receive a licence from the Czech central bank. RP sat down with Mr Ngo Minh Khoa who heads the BIDV’s Prague office, to discuss the bank’s expansion to Europe, its strategy in attracting new clients here, and its plans for the future. We began by asking Mr Ngo why they chose to come to the Czech
The two candidates heading into the runoff have already begun battling for supremacy. In a news conference at his election headquarters, Karel Schwarzenberg described Mr. Zeman as a man of the past (he also sang the Czech national anthem). The latter replied about an hour later by saying that Mr. Schwarzenberg was a man of the present, in that he was responsible for the actions of the current government, including tax rises, pension reform and church restitution. He also highlighted the link between his opponent and his TOP 09 colleague Miroslav Kalousek, who is seen as the de facto head of the party and as finance minister is the chief architect of the financial reforms. Mr. Zeman said the runoff would be a left-right vote along the lines of the Hollande-Sarkozy battle for the presidency in France last year.
In Business News this week: the Czech public debt reaches a new high; Czechs buy less food, clothes and home appliances; Albania is set to withdraw ČEZ’s licence to operate in the country; up to 40 percent of retailers violate trade regulations during post-Christmas sales; and the popular Czech butter spread will undergo an EU-enforced name change by mid 2013.
The highest unemployment in the country at the end of last year was in the Ústí nad Labem region, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. The employment rate in this northern Bohemian region went up by 0.6% from November to reach 14% in December. Contributing factors to the worsening situation on the job market are cutbacks carried out by some of the major employers in the region.
In an effort to support the use of electric cars, the Czech state-owned
energy producer ČEZ has announced it will offer personal charging
and special electricity prices for electric car owners. The company’s
representatives believe that this year will be a groundbreaking year for
electric vehicles. Currently, ČEZ allows customers to charge their
vehicles at its 32 charging station around the country for a flat monthly
fee of 150 crowns.
Government wants to rework proposal on parties finances
The government has suspended deliberations on the proposal that would introduce an independent office that would oversee political parties’ finances. Parties have been unable to agree for a longer time whether it is preferable to introduce a new body in a time of budget cuts. Interior Minister Jan Kubice has been charged with reworking the proposal in a way that would introduce stricter measures for managing parties’ finances and would allow the public to have easier access to financing information.
The Czech government has approached international banks to gauge their interest in a new emission of government bonds, the Reuters news agency reported on Monday, quoting a London-based market source. It is not clear when the new emission could be put out, the report says. The Czech government last issued bonds in October which sold for nearly 70 billion crowns.
In the past weeks in the Czech business world: Almost 3700 businesses had to close in 2012; the state deficit for the last year was lower than the government had expected by 4 billion crowns; online stores had big profits in December thanks to Christmas shopping; the crown may will most likely take a hit in 2013; the Czech Telecommunication Office wants to help more mobile phone operators enter the local market.
Czech taxes on fuel are the highest among all other eastern European member states, according to a report by the consultancy firm European Energy Portal. In VAT and consumption tax, the Czech authorities levy 0.689 euro per liter of diesel which represents 48 percent of the total price. They collect 0.758 euro per liter of petrol, or 54 percent of its end price. An association of Czech entrepreneurs and transporters last year complained about the relatively high fuel taxes, and called on the government to lower them.
The number of both corporate and personal bankruptcies declared in 2012 rose by 46 percent compared to the previous year, according to figures by the company CCB. Nearly 3,700 firms went bankrupt last year; most of them were self-employed people registered as entrepreneurs. Some 60 percent of bankrupt firms were active in the services, trade and restaurant sectors. Meanwhile, nearly 17,000 personal bankruptcies were declared in 2012 which was the highest number since their introduction into Czech law in 2008.
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