In Business News this week: The Czech economy is passing through the lowest point of the recession, says the head of the central bank; the EC predicts the Czech economy will stagnate in 2013; CEZ and Czech Coal are reported to be close to a deal worth a whopping CZK 200 billion-plus; 40,000 Czech customers file a class action for the return of bank charges; and a fifth of Czech medicines are being resold in more expensive markets.
The Czech economy is currently passing through the lowest point of a recession that has been going on for roughly a year and a half. That’s the view of the governor of the Czech National Bank, Miroslav Singer, who made the comments during a lecture this week. Mr. Singer also said inflation had dipped to 1.9 percent in January, below the central bank’s target of 2 percent. He said a sharp rise in prices was not expected. In its latest forecast, the central bank revised its GDP forecast for 2013 from growth of 0.2 percent to a contraction of 0.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has also revised its outlook for the Czech economy downwards – though it does not take such a negative view as the Czech National Bank. In a forecast released on Friday, the Commission said the Czech economy would likely stagnate this year. Meanwhile, it believes the budget deficit will exceed the 3 percent of GDP targeted by the government, an assertion dismissed by the Czech finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek.
While CEZ has been threatened with losing its distribution license in Bulgaria this week, on the home front there could soon be rather more positive news for the Czech power giant. Hospodářské noviny reported on Friday that, after lengthy talks, CEZ has agreed a contract with Czech Coal that will be worth over CZK 200 billion, making it one the biggest deals in the history of the country.
The biggest legal dispute over bank charges seen in the Czech Republic has got underway, with 40,000 customers filing a class action for the return of fees for maintaining credit accounts. In total they are demanding half a billion crowns back from the banks. The angry customers have been brought together by a website created by a group of lawyers. For their part, the banks say the fees they impose are in line with the law, though some have dropped such charges for newly opened credit accounts.
Many medicines are being snapped up in the Czech Republic and sold abroad, chiefly across the border in Germany, where they are far more expensive, Mladá fronta Dnes reported this week. The newspaper quoted the State Institute for Drug Control as saying one-fifth of medicines sold on the Czech market are subsequently resold abroad. As a result it is hard to find a regular supply of some drugs – such as those that alleviate HIV – putting the health of patients at some risk.
The average monthly wage of women in the Czech Republic last year was just under CZK 22,500, or almost CZK 6,000 less than the average for men, according to official figures for the 1996 to 2011 period released this week. The median gross income of women stood at 84 percent of the median gross income of men. Experts say the reason for the gap is the fact that women work in professions and sectors with lower salaries. There are relatively few women in management positions and they also earn less than their male counterparts. One consequence of the situation is that women receive lower old age pensions.
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