The Culture Ministry has confirmed it will provide additional funds for grant programmes. Its representatives met first with officials from the Finance Ministry to agree on details. The news was revealed by the Culture Ministry’s Jan Vondryska. The ministry took the step to try and increase grants after a scaling down was originally announced but came under fire from cultural organisations and publications.
Business news from the past week: ČNB released a new prognosis for GDP growth for 2013; Unemployment figures are up again in January; Russian and Chinese tourists boost profits for luxury items retailers in Prague; Russian bank Sberbank set to open Czech branches; ČEZ has filed international lawsuit against Albania; Fuel sale regulations bill passes through the first reading in the lower house.
The number of the unemployed in the Czech Republic reached a record high in January. Nearly 590,000 people were out of work last month, which is the highest number since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Compared to December, the unemployment rate jumped by 0.6 percent to 8 percent according to the latest government figures. But the jobless rate would exceed 10 percent if calculated using methodology employed by government statisticians until last year. I discussed the surge in unemployment with economist Daniel Münich from the Prague-based institute
The Czech power utility ČEZ is launching international arbitration proceedings against Albania for failing to protect its investment in the country’s energy sector. The company is filing for damages to the tune of 5 billion crowns. ČEZ’s license to operate Albania’s national grid was revoked in January over a long-running dispute with the Albanian energy regulator over tariffs and unpaid bills. Company officials say that decisions made by the Albanian authorities are incompatible with European business standards as well as being in violation of Albanian law.
A recent survey conducted by the LMC agency, which operates the website jobs.cz, has found that roughly half of Czech firms turn down job applicants with criminal records. The survey covered approached 151 different firms and the results following the presidential amnesty (which saw more than 6,000 inmates released in January) are far from encouraging.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday voted to accept the government’s proposed fiscal legislation for further debate. The so-called “fiscal constitution” introduces a limit for the country’s public debt; it also requires the government to come up with ways of curbing spending if the debt exceeds 40 percent of GDP. In case the public debt reaches 48 percent of GDP, the government would be legally bound to cut at least 3 percent of its spending. The opposition has called for changes to the draft legislation which they say would narrow the manoeuvring space for any future government regardless of the economic cycle.
Labour offices report an influx of clients in the wake of the presidential amnesty. According to data released by the labour ministry 4,500 amnestied prisoners have filed for immediate and long-term social support at labour offices around the country. Prisoners released from jail are eligible for immediate financial support to the tune of 1,000 crowns and regular unemployment benefits thereafter, if they fulfill the respective conditions.
The unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2012 reached 7.2 percent, which was 0.7 percent more than in the same period in the previous year, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on Friday. The authorities registered some 380,000 jobless people in the last three months of 2012, which was 44,000 more year-on-year. The number of those unemployed for over a year rose as well, and they now account to over 42 percent of the total number of jobless people. Analysts say the fresh data confirm a negative trend of rising unemployment. Although companies are not laying off workers en masse, those who are made redundant are having trouble finding work.
The Czech state budget in January ended in a surplus of 42.4 billion crowns, the highest surplus since 2000, the Finance Ministry said on Friday. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the figure did not take into account a hike in the VAT rates which came into effect on January 1, raising the dual VAT rates by one percent. The target deficit for the entire 2013 was set at 100 billion crowns; last year, the deficit reached 101 billion, or around 3 percent of the GDP.
In Business News this week: The Czech Ministry of Finance cuts its growth outlook for the year to almost zero; fresh figures show 7.2 percent of Czechs were jobless in Q4 2012; passenger numbers and flights were down at Prague airport last year; spas report a halving of business in just three months; and experts say luxury flats in Prague have maintained their value.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott