In Business News this week: Czech public debt reaches new high; unemployment remains at 7.5 percent in August; Senate curbs subsidies for renewable energy sources; tighter rules are introduced for liquor retailers; prices of potatoes and dairy products jump; and record number of dollar millionaires recorded in Czech Republic.
The Czech public debt increased by 10.5 billion crowns in the first six months of this year, amounting to 1.68 trillion crowns, or nearly 87 billion US dollars, the Czech Finance Ministry said this week. The public debt represents around 47 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. However, in the second quarter of the year alone the debt decreased by 37.5 billion crowns, due to a new emission of state bonds at a nominal value of nearly 60 billion. The Finance Ministry expects the debt to grow by another 10 billion crowns by the end of the year.
The unemployment rate remained at 7.5 percent in the Czech Republic in August, according to figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Monday. In June, the unemployment rate was at 7.3 percent. The authorities registered just over 550,000 job seekers in August. A spokeswoman for the Czech Labour Office said the number of new jobs saw a steady yet slow growth in that month; however, analysts expect the number of the people out of work to grow in the coming month as seasonal jobs will be cut, and the jobless rate is expected to exceed 8 percent in the autumn.
The Czech Senate on Friday passed a bill slashing subsidies for electricity made in photovoltaic power plants and winding down support for other types of renewable energy. The government legislation cuts subsidies for solar plants put into operation after January 1, 2014; support for other types of renewable power production will end in 2015, with the exception of hydro plants with installed capacity of up to 10 megawatts. The legislation also caps fees paid by retail consumers in support of renewable power.
Senators have approved tighter rules for the country’s liquor retailers. The draft legislation introduces a licensing system for sellers of distilled spirits; the licence will be free of charge and retailers will have to apply for it within six months after the bill enters into force. The Senate this week also approved legislation lowering the maximum size of alcohol containers that can be sold to one litre in shops and three litres in bars and restaurants. Liquor producers and distributors will also be required to pay higher tax deposits. The new legislation comes in reaction to last year’s methanol scandal in which over 40 people died after drinking bootleg booze.
The prices of potatoes and dairy products have registered a steep hike since last year, the Czech Statistics Office said on Friday. Compared with last autumn, the retail price of potatoes jumped by over 60 percent which analysts say has been caused by a weaker harvest. The price of butter has increased by over 30 percent while cheese is now some 20 percent more expensive than last year. The price of milk has grown by only around 4 percent. Eggs, on the other hand, on average sell at 2.7 crowns a piece which is 21 percent less than last year.
The number of dollar millionaires in the Czech Republic last year reached a record 18,000, according to a report by consultancies Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management released this week. The number of people with assets worth more than one million US dollars grew by over 5 percent in 2012; the total value of their property increased by 5.4 percent to 42 billion dollars. Worldwide, the number of dollar millionaires grew by 9 percent.
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