Police in Prague are stepping up security at banks in the city in the period leading up to Christmas when, they say, crime usually increases. Officers will focus on drop-offs of shops’ takings and ATMs. They will monitor selected banks and carry out checks on individuals spotted in their vicinity, a spokesperson said.
Members of the police’s organised crime unit have searched the offices of power giant CEZ for materials relating to solar power stations. The police would not give details of the target of the investigation, which saw raids on Tuesday at CEZ’s headquarters in Prague and a daughter company in Hradec Králové. While much remains unclear, Prague Supreme State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová confirmed that the matter was linked to solar power stations. In recent years CEZ has spent billions of crowns buying solar power stations from private companies, some of which are reported to have had unclear ownership structures.
The parties of the emerging coalition government are debating tax changes as of 2015. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka told Czech Television on Sunday that the proposal currently being discussed envisaged three VAT rates as of 2015 – a standard rate and two lower rates with medicines falling into the lowest category. The fallout in state revenues would be compensated for by higher corporate taxes. Details of the emerging agreement are still to be finalized. The Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats say they have made significant progress on policy matters. A debate on the division of ministerial posts has been postponed until mid-December.
The parties of the emerging coalition –the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats –say Saturday’s talks were fruitful and brought significant progress on policy matters. Several issues remain unresolved in the area of taxes and health care, with agreement reached on scrapping direct payments for medical care. The three parties also agreed they would all have the right of veto on proposed legislation. The division of ministerial posts has been shelved due to the temporary absence of Christian Democrat leader Pavel Belobrádek. The parties hope to conclude talks on policy issues by next Tuesday but they have so far made no official commitment to enter into a coalition.
The Czech lower house on Friday approved a draft of the state budget for 2014 in the so-called first reading, sending it for debates in the house committees. The draft budget has a projected deficit of 112 billion crowns which would leave the gap in public spending below 3 percent of GDP. It is based on growth expectations of 1.3 percent, which would bring an additional four to five billion crowns in tax revenues to state coffers. The parties of the emerging government coalition – the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats – have said they would like to see the budget approved by the end of the year.
This week in business news: Travel Service Airlines to buy 34-percent stake in Czech Airlines; Developer Metrostav files arbitration suit against Prague over Blanka tunnel payments; Nominal average wage has risen by 322 crowns, but real wages stagnate; GDP has fallen in Q3 by less than was expected; Mining company OKD will have a new director starting January; Industrial space is the fastest growing sector of the Czech real estate market.
Metrostav, the construction firm building the Blanka tunnel complex in Prague has confirmed that work on the project will cease on December 7, over unpaid bills. The company has filed a complaint against Prague City Hall at an arbitration court and is demanding 2.1 billion crowns for work already completed. Efforts by city hall officials to reach an out-of-court agreement have failed.
The average monthly salary increased by 322 crowns in the third quarter to 24,836 crowns. Adjusted for inflation, this is an increase of only a tenth of a percentage point, which basically signifies a stagnation of wages. Around two thirds of people employed in the Czech Republic, though, receive a lower salary than the average, with the median being currently around 21,000 crowns. Long-term stagnation and slight decreases in real wages is leading to a decrease of household spending, which the Czech National Bank was hoping to thwart with its recent intervention against the crown.
The cabinet has approved a proposal from the Finance Ministry to issue bonds worth almost 210 billion crowns next year. The ministry plans to use these to buy up bonds already on the market, so the issue is not expected to increase state debt. The government also decided on Wednesday to add 7 billion crowns to next year’s budget for the State Agriculture Intervention Fund.
Prague City Hall and the construction firm Metrostav have failed to resolve the controversy over the Blanka tunnel complex under construction in the Czech capital. Metrostav recently warned it would cease further construction work on December 7 over unpaid bills. City Hall said it had stopped further payments after having found that the contract on building work was legally invalid. Metrostav claims it is owed 2.1 billion crowns and is handing the matter over to an arbitration court. Prague City Hall had hoped to reach an out-of–court settlement in order not to jeopardize one of the city’s largest building projects.
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