The Czech Republic and local car maker Škoda Auto appear to have won the battle with Spain and auto maker SEAT to build a new large sports utility vehicle. Strong behind the scenes lobbying by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been one of the factors in the Czech campaign to land the investment.
Statistics reveal that women who go on maternity leave find it hard to return to their former jobs and face what labour market experts call hidden forms of discrimination. Despite government incentives many Czech firms avoid employing young mothers and their former employers often refuse to grant them part-time jobs. Consequently the Czech Republic has one of the highest unemployment rates of mothers in Europe.
Talks about the possible Russian participation in a project to build new nuclear capacity alongside Czech utility ČEZ have collapsed. The tale here is not of Temelín and tough Czech retaliation against Russian intervention in Ukraine, but of Slovakia and ČEZ’s ill-fated joint venture with the Slovak government.
A new package of investment incentives is being drawn up with the onus on cutting company payments rather than forcing them to reclaim cash from the state. The new rules could cushion some of the impact of stricter European regional aid rules which are expected to blunt the Czech Republic’s use of this incentive for investors.
Heroine or villain? The high profile but sometimes quixotic head of the Czech independent energy regulator Alena Vitásková could be cast either way by the role she has occupied since becoming chairwoman of the office in mid-2011. On Tuesday, she emerged again above the parapet again to fend off attacks on her person and the Energy Regulatory Authority (ERÚ).
Attracting foreign investment has become a much debated issue in recent months with the government working on a new strategy to promote the country’s business interests in far-flung destinations. Now the north Bohemian town of Žatec is reported to be close to signing a 20-billion crown investment deal that could provide over two thousand jobs is a region suffering from high unemployment.
Despite projections of economic growth, fear of the future and high unemployment is making Czechs increasingly cautious when it comes to spending. Polls indicate that in 2013 two thirds of Czechs significantly cut back on their expenditures, forking out less on clothes, entertainment, holidays but also food and in some cases even medical care. Restaurants around the country are feeling the pinch and hundreds of them are literally fighting for survival.