The Czech Republic’s state debt rose by 10.5 billion crowns in the first half of 2013, reaching an overall total of more than 1.6 trillion. Broken down, the share of the debt per citizen comes to almost 160 thousand, the Finance Ministry confirmed. According to ministry forecasts, the state debt will rise to 1.8 trillion by the end of next year and 1.9 trillion by the end of 2015.
The labour ministry has exhausted four-fifths of its budget for people or families in emergencies or crisis this year: 7.5 billion crowns in the first seven months – 1.7 billion more than the same period in 2012. More individuals and families have signed for social benefits or welfare, and unemployment did not improve, the Labour Office’s report notes. This year, more funds went to the unemployed and the handicapped.
In Business News this week: Czech public debt reaches new high; unemployment remains at 7.5 percent in August; Senate curbs subsidies for renewable energy sources; tighter rules are introduced for liquor retailers; prices of potatoes and dairy products jump; and record number of dollar millionaires recorded in Czech Republic.
The Czech Environmental Inspectorate has halted the planned demolition of the former Setuza chemical plant in Lovosice after it was discovered the site housed many tonnes of hazardous chemicals. The information was confirmed by spokeswoman Simona Ciganková. Compounds of radioactive elements were also among the chemicals found in the plant. Inspectors will inform the Regional Office´s environmental section, Lovosice Town Hall and the State Office for Nuclear Safety about the situation, the spokeswoman said. The inspectorate will also launch administrative proceedings on sanctions against the complex's current owner. As a company, Setuza produced technical lubricants, oil bases as well as fodder mixtures.
Volunteers for Svetluška, a Czech NGO raising money for the blind in conjunction with the Endowment Fund of Czech Radio, hit Czech streets on Monday in various towns and cities as part of a annual pledge drive. Six thousand volunteers, dressed in black & white, wearing the characteristic Svetluška logo, asked for support. One on the main faces of the programme, in the long-term, has been Czech musician and singer Aneta Langerová.
President Miloš Zeman and unsuccessful presidential candidate Jan Fischer will not have to pay gift tax on money from sponsors which they received after the presidential election. Of all presidential candidates they alone were unable to settle their campaign debts within the legal deadline. The Interior Ministry and the Financial Administration Office said that despite this irregularity it was obvious that the donated finances were intended for the presidential campaign and no gift tax was required. This decision will save President Miloš Zeman an estimated one million crowns, and his unsuccessful rival for the presidency half that sum.
The Czech government has begun discussing Finance Minister Jan Fischer’s state budget proposal for next year, and the debate will continue until the end of September before a final version is given approval, the country’s interim prime minister, Jiří Rusnok, said on Wednesday. Under the proposal next year’s deficit should be 110 billion crowns – five billion higher than the proposal planned by the previous centre-right government led by Petr Nečas. The finance minister said that individual ministries had requests for increases adding up to 35 billion crowns. He stressed it would not to be possible to fulfil all requests although the government would debate the matter. On September 20, members of the so-called tripartite – union, business and government leaders – will also debate the budget prior to its approval by the cabinet.
Revised figures confirm that the Czech Republic’s longest ever recession has come to an end. The second quarter of this year saw growth of 0.6 percent in gross domestic product, the Czech Statistics Office said on Tuesday, revising a previous estimate downwards by 0.1 percent. The country’s economy had contracted for the previous six quarters in a row, the longest such downturn on record. The growth has been driven by exports.
A draft of the state budget for 2014 recons with a deficit of 110 billion crowns, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. The budget cuts funding for the transport and education portfolios while increases expenditures for the ministries of agriculture and industry. The deficit is 5 billion higher than that planned by the previous centre-right government of Petr Nečas; however, the expected deficit should remain under the target of 3 percent of GDP. The government is to send the draft budget to the lower house by the end of September; however, MPs will only be able to debate it two months later, after the early general election.
Two thirds of Czechs are unhappy with the state of the economy which they describe as bad to very bad. According to the results of a survey conducted by the CVVM polling agency 55 percent of respondents said they expected a further deterioration of the economy; over 30 percent predicted stagnation and only six percent of respondents said they expected an improvement. Despite indications that the longest recession in the country’s modern history appears to be over, Czechs are more pessimistic in their predictions that their counterparts in Poland, Hungary or Slovakia.
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