In order to cover the budget deficit this year, the Czech government has approved the Finance Ministry’s proposal to issue bonds worth 99.93 billion crowns. The cabinet approved a law that allows for the issuing of bonds with a 55-year maturity to cover the state budget deficit, which was set to 100 billion crowns for 2013.
After years of growth, the real estate market in the Czech capital has seen a slow but steady decline, with decreasing prices and many more new listings having turned Prague property into a buyer’s market. One factor behind the change is waning interest from foreigners to invest into real estate in the Czech capital. However, some parts of Prague have become more attractive for Czechs and foreigners alike, while others remain popular primarily with foreign clients.
The Czech economy contracted by 1.2 percent last year, according to a revised official estimate released on Monday. Gross domestic product declined by 1.7 percent year-on-year in the final quarter of last year, and analysts believe there was a further contraction in the first quarter of this year. The country is currently going through the longest recession on record and the forecast for the whole of 2013 is for continued decline or at best stagnation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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