The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic rose to 8.1 percent in February, up from 8.0 percent in January. According to figures released on Friday, 593,000 Czechs were out of work last month. The unemployment rate in the capital Prague reached 4.6 percent. The Czech economy is at present going through its longest recession on record.
In Business this week: Korean Airlines bid for a 44 percent stake in the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines, hackers attack the websites of leading Czech banks and the Prague Stock Exchange, there has been a further growth in unemployment and a drop in spirits sales in the wake of last year’ s methanol poisonings.
Fuel prices in the Czech Republic have stopped rising, according to figures by CCS, a monitoring firm. The price of the most popular petrol, Natural 95, only registered a slight increase compared to last week, to reach the price of 36.8 crowns per litre. Meanwhile, the price of diesel has seen no increase at all, with an average price per litre remaining at 36.2 crowns. Analysts say the halt in price rises has been influenced by decreasing prices of oil on the international market. The highest prices of fuel were registered in the capital; the lowest in southern Bohemia.
The anti-corruption police has made a series of arrests on Tuesday and Wednesday on massive tax evasion charges. Nine people around the country have been charged so far, with eight remaining in police custody. According to the police, suspects were involved in tax evasion by issuing phony invoices to each other’s companies, with damages to the state running into tens of millions of crowns. During some 30 home searches, detectives were able to secure 45 million crowns in cash, as well as some property.
A number of major financial institutions in the Czech Republic were attacked by hackers on Wednesday morning. The websites and internet banking sites of the Czech National Bank and large banks like Česká spořitelna, Komerční banka, and ČSOB were down for a number of hours due to the cyber attack. The website of the Prague Stock Exchange has also been affected, while smaller banks like mBank and AirBank were not attacked by hackers. Spokesperson from the Česká spořitelna bank said that customers’ personal data has not been compromised. This comes in the wake of cyber attacks conducted earlier this week against Czech news websites and the search engine Seznam.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic hit a record high at the start of the year. January saw close to 590,000 people out of work, the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The government says this is largely the result of external factors, but critics and trade unions claim the government’s ill-conceived austerity measures have undercut growth.
The police have begun investigating 10 people in connection with a suspicious contract for IT services at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, a spokesperson said on Saturday. The story was reported in the newspaper Lidove noviny, which said that the supreme state attorney, Lenka Bradáčová, had said the suspects included both present and former employees of the ministry. Jaromír Drábek resigned as labour minister in October after a close associate, who was had been his deputy, was accused of corruption.
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 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 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.
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