Deadline approaching on land-swap deal at proposed $1.2bn Hyundai car plant site; Hourly wages in Czech Republic among the lowest in the OECD; If 'old' EU members keep controls, Czech Republic also will consider labour restrictions against states joining in 2007; Survey shows Czech firms are among Europe's most chronically late payers; Cabinet expected to decide on funding for new Brno medical-research centre this month; Former president Havel weighs in against extending territorial limits on coal mining
I'm currently at the beautiful and romantic North Bohemian baroque chateau of Jezeri. It's about a two hour drive away from Prague and is actually a former Medieval castle that was rebuilt into a renaissance chateau in the sixteenth century, and then once again after a fire in the eighteenth century. Jezeri lies on the wooded southern slopes of the beautiful Krusne Hory, or Krusne Mountains, but instead of overlooking the ancient park that once stretched out for miles below, the chateau is on the edge of a vast opencast coal mining area. Jezeri
The Czech foreign trade balance last month reached its highest monthly surplus in a decade. The government has announced the privatisation of two coalmining companies. The telecommunications regulator has cut fixed-to-mobile interconnection rates. The number of tourists visiting the Czech Republic was up last year, while the number of bankruptcies was down. A poll suggests few Czechs will go choose to work in other EU countries after accession. And the governor of the Czech National Bank has called for changes in euro adoption criteria.
The government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has decided to undertake its first major privatisation. On Tuesday, it agreed to sell its stakes in two Czech coal-mining companies. The cabinet said that the proceeds, worth almost 5 billion crowns, will be used to cover repairs of roads and railways as well as the building of new transport infrastructure.
The government has approved a new state energy plan which - after some protests from the environmental lobby - does not allow for the loosening of restrictions on coal mining. The minister for the environment, Libor Amborzek, said the plan's emphasis on renewable energy and effective energy use showed the Czech Republic's energy policy was now moving in a more environmental direction. There had been fears that some communities would have been destroyed to make way for new mines.
At the beginning of the month an angry mob gathered outside the office of the government, lobbying against a state energy policy proposed by the Industry and Trade Ministry. The controversy over the policy, which is to be in place until 2030, was due to its abolishment of coal mining restrictions, as well as plans to build two new nuclear reactors. Vojtech Kotecky works for the non-governmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, and was there at the protest. His organisation has been campaigning against the new energy policy for the past year.
An angry mob gathered outside the Office of the Government on Wednesday, as the cabinet met to discuss a controversial energy plan put forward by the Ministry of Industry. Over the next 25 years the ministry wants to build two new nuclear reactors and loosen restrictions on coal mining. The latter part of the plan could see two villages in north Bohemia being wiped off the map to make way for new mines. There has been a great deal of opposition to the plan, including from the Ministry of the Environment, which put forward an alternative energy
Coalition parties at odds over another tax hike. The railway trade unions are planning a strike in protest at mass redundancies. Stock brokers from the European Union are becoming interested in membership of the Prague Stock Exchange. Czech truck production decreased in 2003. The tractor maker Zetor is on the verge of bankruptcy. OKD mulls acquisition of Polish competitors. Czech travel agents report record sales for 2003. Number of importers from China may go out of business for failing to apply in time for a licence. Russian industrial group