A wave of statistics released Thursday represented mixed economic news for Czechs. November’s unemployment rose to 8.2% from October’s 7.7% with the jobless total now hovering just under 600,000. Using previous methods of calculation, the latest figures could represent the high ever jobless figure in recent Czech history at 10.3%. Higher food prices helped push up inflation to 1.4% in December from November’s 1.1%. On the brighter side, industrial production surged ahead with a 6.2% spurt in November. That is almost twice the rise of the previous month.
The Czech economy actually grew by 0.2% in the third quarter of last year compared with the previous three month period. But the national statistics office now says Gross Domestic Product was still down by 1.2% on the situation a year earlier, slightly better than its previous figure of a decline of 1.3%.The latest figures appear to shrug off earlier fears expressed by the Czech National Bank that the economy could slip into recession at the end of 2013.
The central bank’s decision to launch forex interventions against the crown last November have won Miroslav Singer the title European central banker of the year by the Financial Times group monthly The Banker, but many Czech producers remain unconvinced it was the right move and consumers fear significant price rises in the coming months.
Long queues have been forming at labour offices around the country with people complaining about delayed welfare payments. Employees have been struggling to deliver welfare payments after the system they had been using since 2012 was unexpectedly shutdown. They have gone back to using a previous system which is outdated and slow. Meanwhile, Labour Ministry officials and representatives of the firm Fujitsu Technology Solutions are meeting to debate the legal implications of the decision to shut down the welfare payments system which the company had provided since 2012. The company won a contract on running the system but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. The Labour Ministry says Fujitsu had no reason to act rashly since its system could have remained in operation on the grounds of an addendum to the contract signed.
The Bulgarian energy regulator has ordered an inspection into pricing at the Czech energy distributor ČEZ and the Austrian EVN in the wake of growing complaints from the public. People claim their electricity bills are excessively high and accuse the distributors of overpricing. A similar inspection was ordered last year under threat of revoking ČEZ’s license but the inspection uncovered no irregularities. The Czech power giant ČEZ said late last year it would appeal a decision by the Bulgarian energy regulator to cut energy prices for consumers from January 2014. The Bulgarian State Energy Commission had announced a plan to reduce electricity prices for Bulgarian households by one per cent starting January, at the same time cutting the night-time rate by 10 per cent and electricity prices for industrial consumers by 1.5 per cent.
The Czech Republic´s top banker has gladly taken the praise awarded him by his international audience for the central bank's audacious foreign currency intervention to push the crown lower. But Czech National Bank governor Miroslav Singer admits assessments of the move will not really be possible until the impact on inflation becomes clearer.
Labour Ministry officials and representatives of the firm Fujitsu Technology Solutions are to meet on Monday to debate the legal implications of the decision to shut down the welfare payments system which the company had provided since 2012. The company won a contract on running the system but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. Labour offices are now struggling to deliver payments using a previous, now-outdated system and the Labour Ministry says Fujitsu had no reason to act rashly since its system could have remained in operation on the grounds of an addendum to the contract signed. The Labour Ministry has warned that thousands of people could get their welfare contributions late.
Czech National Bank governor Miroslav Singer has been voted European central bank governor of the year for 2014 by The Banker magazine, according to the bank’s spokesperson Marek Petrus. The Czech central bank governor was reportedly elected for his decision to launch interventions on foreign currency markets in order to weaken the crown in view of maintaining monetary stability and revitalizing the economy.
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