The state budget surplus in February dropped to 5.6 billion crowns from January’s 42.4 billion, the Finance Ministry said on Friday. Even so it is the best result since 2000. In February 2012 the budget showed a 16.6 billion crown deficit. This year’s state budget was approved with a projected 100 billion crown deficit.
The winner of the eighths annual poll for the most absurd Czech bank fee has been announced. According to the anti-fee watchdog website bankovnipoplatky.com, which conducted the poll, the most absurd fee is the fee for using an ATM machine to find out one’s balance which received 36 percent of votes. In some cases this fee was actually higher than that for taking out money from an ATM machine of one’s own bank. Second place went to the fee banks charge for managing a mortgage account, which received 22 percent of votes and third place went to the fee banks charge for sending you an electronic bank statement.
The Prague State Attorney’s Office has asked the police to investigate accusations of corruption against Prime Minister Petr Necas stemming from a criminal complaint filed by defence lawyer Václav Láska. Láska’s complaint alleges that the prime minister promised three Civic Democrat deputies lucrative posts in state-owned companies if they gave up their seats in the lower house to allow the government’s controversial tax package to win approval. A criminal complaint has also been filed against the three now former deputies, Marek Šnajdr, Petr Tluchoř and Ivan Fuksa. Marek Šnajdr later got a seat on the supervisory board of the company Čepro, while Ivan Fuksa was named managing director of Czech Aeroholding. According to media reports Petr Tluchoř is allegedly being considered for a post in the power giant ČEZ.
In business news this week: monthly Czech household debt has fallen for the first time in 11 years, while consumer confidence went up; Telefónica released lower earning figures for last year than was expected; food produced Hamé wants to expand to Africa and the Middle East; plan for the Czech-Austrian Mozart pipeline has been revived; produced of esophagus stents wins Czech innovation prize; year-on-year profits for Czech pension funds went up last year.
Household debt in the Czech Republic fell month-on-month in January for the first time since September 2001, according to data just released. Last month Czechs owed CZK 1.164 trillion to banks and other financial institutions, twice the figure recorded 11 years ago. The Czech Republic is currently going through its longest recession on record and the decline in household debt suggests that Czechs are worried about spending, preferring to save than owe money.
Outgoing Czech President Václav Klaus received an award from the Slovak Entrepreneur’s Association on Wednesday, the second day of his visit to Bratislava. The association praised Mr Klaus’s role in the economic transformation of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic from a central economy to a free market economy after 1989. Mr Klaus served as finance minister in Czechoslovakia and then prime minister in the Czech Republic, overseeing wide-ranging but often criticised reforms in the 1990s. In Bratislava, the president – who leaves office next week – discussed the EU and slammed the union as no longer being a symbol of prosperity. An outspoken EU critic, he also downplayed the negative impact of a member state leaving the euro zone, citing the Czech Republic’s and Slovakia’s own split and successful separation of currency.
Pension funds in the Czech Republic saw profits rise by 6 percent year-on-year to 4.83 billion crowns in 2012, the Association of Pension Funds has told the Czech news agency. Pension funds registered a record number of 5.15 million clients, over half a million more than at the end of 2011. Savings made up by clients’ deposits, employers’ contributions, state subsidies and appreciation reached 247.7 billion crowns, which was an annual rise of 6 percent. In Q4 of last year alone, the number of private pension scheme clients increased by more than 474,000. The rise of interest in these kinds of savings was connected with a statutory period that restricted the possibility of signing such contracts until the end of November, APF president Karel Svoboda said.
Czech banks are facing a major confrontation with dozens of thousands of their clients that could cost them hundreds of millions of crowns. Over 40,000 people have now signed up to class actions to reclaim the fees banks charge for loan and mortgage accounts. The clients say the practice is illegal, and want their money back. The banks, meanwhile, remain defiant, saying all their charges are in line with the law.
This year’s deficit of Czech public finances should not exceed 3 percent of gross domestic product, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Friday. Mr Kalousek’s remarks came in a reaction to an estimate by the European Commission which predicted the deficit would reach 3.1 percent of the country’s GDP. Keeping the gap below 3 percent would bring an end to the excessive deficit procedure launched against the Czech Republic by the European Commission in 2009, Mr Kalousek said. The finance minister however warned the target could only be met provided that European economy does not experience any dramatic downturn.
In Business News this week: The Czech economy is passing through the lowest point of the recession, says the head of the central bank; the EC predicts the Czech economy will stagnate in 2013; CEZ and Czech Coal are reported to be close to a deal worth a whopping CZK 200 billion-plus; 40,000 Czech customers file a class action for the return of bank charges; and a fifth of Czech medicines are being resold in more expensive markets.
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