Plans to build two more reactors at the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia are looking increasingly unlikely be realized. Incoming prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in an interview this week that his government would not offer guarantees on the purchase price of electricity from the new reactors which alone would make the estimated $15 billion project economically feasible.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police on Wednesday raided the Prague headquarters of the state-owned Czech Export Bank and the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation. The police have not disclosed any details of the operation; however, the news website idnes.cz reported the police were gathering evidence related to suspicious loans and guarantees for Czech firms exporting to Russia. A spokeswoman for the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation said the officers were interested in 15 older cases including the financing of a glass works in Russia. The police also raided the premises of the companies PSJ Jihlava and Sklostroj in Turnov later on Wednesday.
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.
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.
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