In related news, a majority of Czechs oppose the adoption of the Euro for the time since 2001, according to a survey by the CVVM agency released on Thursday. 55 percent of those polled said they did not want the Czech Republic to adopt the single European currency, while 38 percent would welcome it. In 2001, 52 percent of Czechs supported the adoption of the euro. Among the opponents of the euro are supporters of the Social Democrats and Communists, elderly people and people with low living standards.
The vice-governor of the Czech National Bank, Mojmír Hampl, said that due to the current problems of the Eurozone, it made no sense to talk about any concrete deadline for the adoption of the euro in the Czech Republic. Speaking at a seminar held by the Czech Exporters’ Association, Mr Hampl said the European Union and the Eurozone faced a complicated debate on its future economic policies. The demand on the side of the Eurozone to accept new members also decreased, according to Mojmír Hampl. Most experts and politicians believe the Czech Republic could adopt the euro in 2015 at the earliest.
The Czech Environment ministry approved on Thursday a controversial plan to renovate the ČEZ-owned coal power plant in Prunéřov, northern Bohemia. Minister Ruth Bízková told reporters the project complied with all requirements related to air quality protection in the region. The 25 billion crown, or 1.3 billion US dollar project has been opposed by environmentalists who demanded the ČEZ power producer use the best available technology in the renovation, contrary to the approved project. Green Party leader Ondřej Liška said the project was a victory of the power giant ČEZ over the environment and people’s health. The previous environment minister, Jan Dusík, stepped down over the issue last month. Mr Dusík was going to ask ČEZ to prepare another project that would use the best technology but Prime Minister Jan Fischer insisted the environment ministry approve the project in its current form. Mr Dusík refused to do so and resigned.
The Czech Finance Ministry raised on Thursday its estimate for this year’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage points to 1.5 percent. Next year, the Czech Republic’s gross domestic product should grow by 2.4 percent. The estimate of the Czech National Bank for this year’s growth is lower; the central bank believes the economy will grow by 1.4 percent. Last year the Czech economy contracted by 4.2 percent. The Finance Ministry said the country was successfully recovering from the downturn, and expected the growth will be fuelled by foreign trade.
Uncertainty reigns in Europe as Greek leaders wait anxiously for Germany to agree on a bailout plan for the country’s debt-laden economy. Analysts fear if Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to dither, the euro could be pulled into the abyss as other debt-ridden countries such as Spain and Portugal follow suit. But one man telling Europe ‘I told you so’ is President Václav Klaus, who says the euro is the cause of Greek woes.
Earlier this year Micronesia called on the Czech Republic not to refit its biggest coal-fired power station, Prunéřov, saying the pollution it will produce threatens the tiny state’s future. The matter also proved controversial in the Czech Republic itself, leading to the departure of one cabinet minister. However, the Environment Ministry has now approved the project, despite the fact the plant’s owners ČEZ are not planning to install the best available technology.
The Czech textile producer Odevní Podnik (OP), which is threatened by bankruptcy, will be closing down its location in the Moravian city of Jeseník, where 290 of the companies’ roughly 1500 employees work. In addition, some 300 employees of OP’s main branch in Projestov will lose their job. OP has made losses of 104 million Czech crowns in the first three months of 2010 alone and is about 1.6 billion crowns in debt. While it the company not yet announced bankruptcy, OP executives say it is likely. OP is the Czech Republic’s largest textile producer.
In an interview published in Wednesday’s edition of the German daily
Frankfurter Allgemeine, Czech president Václav Klaus identifies the euro
as the main cause of Greece’s financial crisis. He said that Greece’s
budget policy is not to be blamed for the country’s problems and added
that the situation could be helped by devaluing the currency by forty
percent, which is not possible because Greece no longer has an independent
currency. Mr. Klaus says that in terms of economic stability and growth,
the euro-zone collapsed a long time ago, but that he still considers it
unlikely that European leaders would drop the euro.
Václav Klaus is a fierce opponent of the European Union’s monetary and political centralization and has stated previously that the Czech Republic would benefit if the euro was not introduced in the country.
Experts are concerned that a recent landmark ruling by the Czech Constitutional Court on the pension system might lead to excessive government expenditures. The verdict gives politicians until September 2011 to change the way pensions are calculated, but could speed up a general overhaul of the contribution-based system.
Some politicians and experts have warned that a change in pension law, following a recent decision by the Constitutional Court, will most likely lead to a significant increase in state expenses. In a debate program on Czech public television on Sunday, former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said that the change in pension law that the court verdict calls for should be implemented as part of a general pension reform. The head of the Association of Pension Funds of the Czech Republic said that the change in law will affect tens of thousands of pension recipients. In an interview for Saturday’s edition of the daily Právo, the head of the Constitutional Court said that the verdict would not lead to significant added expenses for the state, since it only affected about 8000 recipients of pension. The Constitutional Court ruled last week that the current calculation of pensions for higher income earners was unconstitutional.
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