Two mobile service providers will introduce first 4G networks in the Czech Republic; ČEZ and Czech Coal strike a major deal worth CZK 200 billion; Tesco is facing a possible fine over horsemeat; European Commission has begun reviewing the tax evasion case against the Czech government; Opposition Social Democrats say they will introduce higher taxes; Famous sportsmen invest in solar energy.
The Czech Finance Ministry will not pay some 2.6 billion crowns, or more than 130 million US dollars, for regional projects that had failed to secure funding from the EU, according to a press release by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek. The European Commission last month refused to pay for the projects organized by the Czech operational programme, ROP Northwest, over issues with the projects’ administration and lack of supervision. Mr Kalousek said the costs of the projects would have to be covered from the budgets of the respective Ústí and Karlovy Vary regions. Members of the regional representations meanwhile said that with no help from the ministry, the regions could not afford to do so.
The energy giant CEZ has struck a huge deal with Czech Coal under which the latter will supply it with fuel for its Počerady power station. The contract, which follows lengthy negotiations, is valued at around CZK 200 billion and will run until 2060. The deal also includes an option for Czech Coal to buy Počerady in the future, though the price has not been revealed. It is one of the biggest transactions ever seen on the Czech market.
The former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences Václav Pačes is to get a seat on the supervisory board of the power giant ČEZ. According to Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek he will replace outgoing deputy chair Ivo Foltyn on Tuesday. The 71-year-old scientist has considerable experience in the field, having headed a government commission whose task it was to contribute to formulating a long-term energy strategy under the former prime minister Mirek Topolánek.
The Private Entrepreneurs’ Party has filed a criminal complaint against the shadow finance minister, Jan Mládek, over a public statement in which he characterized self-employed owners of small businesses as parasites who exploit their employees and fail to contribute to the social security system. Mr Mládek, who made the statement at the Social Democratic Party’s weekend conference, has since apologized for his words saying his criticism had in actual fact been targeted against the government which set down a framework under which small businesses had excessively generous tax privileges. The shadow finance minister’s words caused an uproar and the chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, clearly distanced himself from the statement, apologizing on Mr. Mladek’s behalf.
France’s Areva has filed a protest against the decision made by the
Czech Anti-Monopoly Office confirming its exclusion from the 10 billion
dollar tender for the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant in
southern Bohemia. A spokeswoman for the company said Areva was convinced
that the Anti-Monopoly Office had failed to comply with a number of
requirements for tender review proceedings set by Czech and European law.
It believes the office made the decision surprisingly swiftly and did not
take into account 95 percent of the evidence Areva produced in its own
Areva was rejected from the tender for allegedly failing to meet legislative and commercial requirements. Westinghouse Electric Corp. and a Russian-Czech group led by Rosatom Corp.’s unit ZAO Atomstroyexport are still competing for the deal. ČEZ should choose the winner in mid- 2013 and sign a final contract with the respective company by the year’s end.
Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, has requested to revoke the Czech state-owned energy company ČEZ's distribution license in the country, citing deplorable pricing tactics that were revealed during a month-long investigation into the firm. ČEZ denies the allegations and said it did not yet receive the findings. Investigations into Czech and Austrian energy distributors in Bulgaria were triggered by massive street protests over high energy prices in January.
The shadow finance minister Jan Mládek announced that if his party, the Social Democrats, will come to power after the parliamentary elections in 2014, they will introduce a progressive personal income tax with a highest rate of 38 percent of the gross salary. Speaking at the Social Democratic congress on Saturday, Mr Mládek said the Social Democrats will raises corporate taxes from 19 to 21 percent, and create a special 30-percent tax for large financial, energy and telecommunication companies.
The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has unveiled a new plan to combat rising levels of unemployment. Minister Ludmila Müllerová who presented the plan at a news conference in Prague on Friday, said the ministry would spend around seven billion crowns on the programme which includes subsidies for companies which give jobs to unemployed people under 30, support for part-time jobs for mothers and long-term job-seekers, as well as subsidies for the jobless who will become self-employed. The ministry also plans to enhance assistance and support for municipalities, NGOs as well as job seekers.
In Business News this week: Korean Airlines are to acquire a 44 percent stake in ČSA; Česká Spořitelna planning lay-offs despite high profits; despite efforts to find new markets, the Czech economy remains heavily dependent on export to EU states and two Prague restaurants hold onto their Michelin stars.
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Rare Terezín concentration camp artefacts found in attic of private home
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott