Prime Minister Petr Nečas is on a one-day working visit to Finland. He is scheduled to meet with his Finnish counterpart Jyrki Katainen and will be received by President Sauli Niinisto. On Friday morning the Czech prime minister addressed the Czech-Finnish Business Forum at a meeting of the European Democratic Union, an alliance of European conservative parties. Finland is an important trading partner for the export-dependent Czech economy, with a stable interest in Czech engineering products and Škoda cars. The Czech side is hoping to raise its traditional export commodities and is seeking new business opportunities in the fields of infrastructure and power production.
A Prague municipal court ruled for the plaintiff on Thursday in the first of thousands of ongoing court cases against banks and lending institutions. Michal Novák will receive 4,200 crowns from Hypoteční banka as compensation for being charged a maintenance fee for his loan account. Around 130 thousand clients have filed similar charges against major financial institutions from which they had taken out loans or mortgages and this decision may serve as a precedent for upcoming trials.
In Business News: The EC proposal to lower the ceiling on business incentives could severely undercut investment in the country, the Czech Statistical Office posts the highest Czech current account on record, a Czech district court passes a breakthrough verdict in a dispute over bank fees and one in twelve Czechs now have a problem repaying their debts.
Town mayors are planning to demonstrate against the government’s proposed plan for the distribution of EU subsidies in the years between 2014 and 2020. They say the proposal involves excessive bureaucracy, leaves room for corruption and may leave potential funds untapped. Mayors say EU funds should primarily be used to improve the standard of living in rural areas and so to close the gap between the big cities and the rest of the country. In the 2014-2020 timeframe the Czech Republic could potentially draw over 20 billion euros from EU funds. Smaller towns and villages want more direct access to the money.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has refused MPs money to set up a Parliamentary football team which would represent the Czech Republic at the next parliamentary football tournament in Soci, Russia. Deputies from different political parties had asked for 650 thousand crowns from public funds to pay for travel and hotel expenses. The idea came under fire from some of their colleagues in view of the country’s economic problems. Minister Kalousek said on Thursday he had nothing against the idea but that MPS should pay their own way.
The Supreme Audit Office announced on Monday that it found a number of problems in the finances of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute between the years 2009 to 2011. In 2010, the institute provided lower annual budget figures while in the following year it overshot by more than a million crowns. The biggest problems (for which the Hydrometeorological Institute may have to pay a penalty) concerned property records and accounting.
Financial analysts at the Česká spořitelna bank have calculated that Czechs spend approximately 5% of their total expenses abroad, based on the fact that their spending outside of the Czech Republic by credit and debit cards amounted to 45.9 billion crowns last year. Analysts claim that the number of trans-border shopping trips is on the rise due, to a large extent, to the rise in the Value Added Tax and the weakening of the crown. What is interesting is that the Czech Statistical Office estimated the amount spent abroad to 2.3%, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. This may mean that the Czech households are not as badly off as it has seemed from official statistics, the report claims.
The Finance Ministry, in a new macroeconomic forecast, has revised the country’s economic outlook downward, expecting stagnation in 2013 and 1.2 percent growth in 2014. By comparison, in January the ministry predicted 0.1 percent expansion for this year and rise of 1.4 percent for the next. The outlook may further worsen, said the ministry´s spokesman Ondřej Jakob. Factors include developments in the euro zone as a majority of Czech products are exported to euro zone countries. The Finance Ministry expects the euro zone economy to contract by 0.3 percent this year. The moderate worsening of the estimated economic development this year reflects unfavourable data from the first quarter, analysts confirmed.
In the Business News this week: Korean Air completes deal for 44-percent stake in CŠA; jobless rate falls for first time in nine months, but only slightly; labour costs in Czech Republic are below half EU average; car production slows; mobile operators are offering new low monthly prices for unlimited calls; and forest owners want state compensation for recreational use of land.
Czech municipalities have been given greater powers in regulating gambling on their premises. On Thursday the country’s Constitutional Court struck down legislation that prevented town and city halls from banning lottery video terminals on their premises until the end of 2014. The judges said that the provision, which protected terminals licensed by the Finance Ministry, contradicted communities’ right to self-administration. Jan Richter spoke to Vladan Brož from the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International about the court’s ruling.
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