In Business News: the IMF has advised the Czech government against making further budget cuts in view of the country’s worse-than-expected economic development; Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has questioned the financial wisdom of expanding the Temelín nuclear power plant; Czech arms producer Česká zbrojovka has won a multi-million crown tender to supply 50,000 pistols to the Egyptian interior ministry and the Czech liqueur maker Rudolf Jelínek posted its first loss since 1998.
The Ombudsman has said he will look into complaints regarding how banks and insurance companies are treating older clients. Apparently some financial institutions are refusing to issue older people credit cards and asking them to pay higher health insurance on trips abroad purely on the grounds of age. The Ombudsman’s Office is planning a survey of 45 banks and 52 insurance companies to get an overview of the situation. The results should be known in August.
A public tender for the renovation of the National Museum’s historic main building on Wenceslas Square was launched on Monday. The tender was approved in April by the government and subsequently by the finance and culture ministries. Proposals received will be revealed at the end of August. The main building of the National Museum will retain its historic facade which was designed by architect Josef Schulz, but visitors in the future will be able to enjoy a modern exhibition venue following 21st century trends, representatives have made clear. One of the most prominent elements in the renovation plans is the creation of a tunnel connecting the National Museum’s main building with a sister-site which used to serve as the Parliamentary building in the former Czechoslovakia.
The police have charged 25 people with tax fraud relating to imported goods from Asia. Among those charged are five customs officers and several Vietnamese nationals. The damages could reach millions of crowns. Individual members of the group have also been charged with organized crime and taking or soliciting bribes.
Czech annual inflation remains unchanged at 1.7 percent, which is in line with market expectations and slightly below the forecast of the Czech National Bank (1.8 percent). Consumer prices rose by 0.1 on the month in April, driven by the higher prices of clothing, footwear, alcohol and tobacco products. On the other hand, the price of foodstuffs, primarily pastry and dairy products, decreased slightly. Separate data released by the Czech Labour Ministry on Friday showed the April jobless rate at 7.7 percent down from 8.0 percent.
In this week’s Business News: The grey economy in the Czech Republic is estimated to be 16% of the GDP; Average fuel prices have gone done for the fifth week in a row; The Czech energy company Enrgo-Pro has been fined by the Bulgarian anti-monopoly agency; Unemployment sees a small decline to 7.7% in April, due to more seasonal positions; A group of international solar energy investors have filed an arbitration suit against the Czech Republic; Czech and Poles want to oppose planned EU legislation curbing cigarette sales.
An association of foreign and Czech solar energy investors, International PhotoVoltaic Investors Club, has filed an arbitration suit against the Czech Republic, asking for compensation for the financial losses resulting from the introduction of a 26-percent tax on solar power stations’ profits. The Czech government offered numerous incentives in the past to foreign investors in solar energy, promising extensive tax breaks. The retroactive profit tax was introduced in 2011 and applies to power plants that began operations in 2010 and 2009. This year, solar power stations received 44.4 billion crowns in government support, which is 66% of all the public finances for renewable energy.
The Czech Republic has been heavily criticised in recent years for allowing corruption to flourish – particularly for refusing to abolish anonymous stock certificates known as bearer shares. Anti-corruption campaigners say these unregistered paper shares are of great value to corrupt businessmen, dirty politicians and crooked officials, especially in doling out lucrative public tenders. Now however, their days are numbered.
The police’s anti-corruption unit have proposed that 12 people be charged in connection with suspicious contracts won by the company Promopro during the Czech presidency of the European Union in 2009. Detectives say the firm overcharged the Office of the Government by almost CZK 400 million for audiovisual services. Among those accused are three former state officials, including the then deputy to Alexandr Vondra, who was deputy prime minister for European affairs when the alleged offences took place. The three face charges of abuse of office and breach of trust, while police say the other accused are guilty of money laundering and fraud.
Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia Pavel Mikeš: ‘If you wait long enough, an egg will walk on two legs’
New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
The Czechoslovak occultist plot to kill Hitler by magic
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
Czech companies struggling with labour shortage