In this week’s business news: The Czech Republic will have to build around 13 000 charging points for electric cars by 2020; The greatest number of foreign investors have decided to enter the Czech market last year since the beginning of the economic crisis; ČEZ’s distribution license in Albania has been revokes by the government there; Czech government debt is the eighth lowest in the whole of the EU; Budvar was unable to stop rival Anheuser-Busch from having the right to register the ‘Bud’ trademark in Europe.
The French company Areva that was excluded from a public tender for the expansion of the nuclear power plant Temelín has again received a negative response from the Office for the Protection of Competition to their request to suspend the tender. Areva was excluded last October by the state-owned energy company ČEZ from the tender competition because the company allegedly failed to meet the criteria. Areva has denied the claims and has twice requested for the tender to be suspended and re-evaluated. ČEZ is currently choosing between the Japanese-American Westinghouse and the Czecho-Russian Consortium MIR.1200.
An Albanian regulator on Monday voted to revoke the distribution license of a loss-making unit of the Czech energy giant CEZ. It is also holding the company liable for failing to import electricity into the Balkan state and not investing in its power grid. CEZ plans to contest the move and will demand compensation in a court of arbitration. The decision is the latest move in a long-running battle between CEZ and Tirana over power imports and prices.
The Czech power giant ČEZ has had its license to operate Albania’s national grid revoked just three years after entering the market. The state regulator’s decision, announced on Monday, follows months of controversy over tariffs and unpaid bills. ČEZ is now counting its losses, estimated at around 5 billion crowns, and is weighing an arbitration suit against the Albanian government. Economic journalist Chris Johnstone says the Albanian investment was a calculated risk that failed to pay off.
The Czech Republic was able to attract 48 companies to the country in 2012, which is the highest number since the financial crisis began in 2008, the financial daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. Hospodářské noviny reported that the increase in the number and size of the investments is most likely due to the improvements in the tax code that came into effect mid-year, which allows for more tax benefits for companies.
The anti-corruption police on Monday conducted a search of the offices of the state-owned forestry enterprise Lesy ČR in Hradec Králové. The move, sources reported, is related to an investigation of a number of non-transparent tenders involving the purchase of IT technology. News site E15 reported earlier that the investigation was related to the fate of 340 million crowns said to have ended up in the hands of non-transparent firms with accounts in Switzerland. According to E15, there is reason to believe that IT contracts worth a total of 1.136 billion crowns had been purposely overvalued. The spokesman for the anti-corruption police, Jaroslav Ibehej, revealed on Monday there had been no arrests; the interim head and economic director of the firm, Michal Gaube, meanwhile, said the forestry enterprise was cooperating fully.
The Education Minister Petr Fiala met with regional governors to discuss planned changes to the financing of education that would give all regions the same amount of money per student depending on the field of study. Currently, there are different financing rules for all the regions. Mr Fiala is hoping to equalize the level of education in different regions by unifying the financing structure. The regional governments will form a working group that will work with the minister on the details of the changes.
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.
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