The imminent change-of-guard in Prague naturally poses questions about the country’s EU role and eventual adoption of the flagship single currency, the euro. Unlike the cautious approach of former center-right governments, the incoming finance minister Andrej Babiš says he has no problem with euro adoption. However, the assurance comes from an astute business magnate who is quick to add that the country is not prepared to guarantee the liabilities of indebted euro users such as Greece or Spain.
A court of arbitration has ordered the construction firm Metrostav to resume work on the controversial Blanka tunnel complex in Prague. In a preliminary ruling, the court dismissed claims raised by Prague City Hall that its contracts with Metrostav on the Blanka construction were invalid. The dispute between Prague and building firm ended at a court of arbitration after Metrostav halted work on the tunnel in December, a move provoked by the City Hall’s decision not to pay some 2.1 billion crowns it owed the company.
Shares in New World Resources dropped more that 19 percent to a five-month low on Thursday after the loss-making Czech miner announced a major review of its capital structure. NWR announced on Wednesday that its majority shareholder BXR was ready to invest new equity into a revamped capital structure and that it would consider all options. Shares traded at 21.20 crowns on Thursday morning, down 14.7 percent. They have already lost 75 percent in the past year as low cola prices and lack of demand pushed NWR into losses.
Two of the three main Czech telecommunications operators, Telefonica and Vodafone, will together layoff some 700 employees, according to Czech business website iHned. All three mobile phone network operators in the Czech Republic, which also includes T-Mobile, have faced worsening conditions and a long-term drop in profits. At the same time, the firms have been forced to invest billions of crowns in the next generation mobile phone network. According to the website, Vodafone, the third-largest operator on the Czech market, will let go around 11 percent of its 1,800 employees, continuing in lay-offs from last year. T-Mobile, which let go several hundred people in 2013, confirmed it would lay-off several dozen people this year.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior are setting up a special group to combat tax evasion, Czech Television reported. The permanent team should be capable of taking swift action, particularly with regard to VAT and consumer tax evasion, the station said. The group, which has the working title National Tax Criminal Agency, will act on information received from a Ministry of Finance analytical unit and would consist of financial administration, police and customs officials.
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.
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