Built at the end of the 1980s to host communist party gatherings, Prague’s Congress Centre was the pride of the communist leadership. However, within years of building it, the communists lost power and the centre never became fully functional. In 2000 it hosted a summit of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but soon ran into debt and now finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy.
The internet auction website eBay has launched a Czech language version at www.ebay.cz. However, the firm’s payment system PayPal is not yet available in Czech. eBay had said last week that its Czech version would begin by the end of March. It has also created new versions in a number of other European languages.
Some 60 percent of small and mid-sized Czech companies believe it is necessary to pay some form of bribe in order to win public contracts, according to a survey of 550 Czech firms. The study, conducted by the Czech Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, also suggests that more than 25 percent of the companies would be ready to pay bribes to get such contracts. Meanwhile, 44 percent of the firms surveyed said they would be willing to blow the whistle should they learn about corrupt practices. Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said the numbers were very high, while the head of the association said many companies were angry about the situation.
The US-based action website Ebay will launch a new platform in Czech and five other languages by the end of March, the company said on Wednesday. Ebay believes that allowing buyers to navigate in their native languages will boost cross-border transactions. The website will also offer its on-line payment system, PayPal, in six new languages. Ebay said the Czech Republic and five other countries were chosen based on demand. Last year, the number of registered users of the website rose by 3 percent to 90.1 million.
The Czech Republic’s main car maker and country’s biggest exporter, Škoda Auto, is sitting pretty amid the series of recalls damaging Japanese rivals. The problems facing the world’s biggest car marker, Toyota, and smaller manufacturer Honda should help the Czech car maker in its bid to break into new markets, especially in Asia.
Thirty-five years ago on Wednesday, the Prague department store Kotva opened its doors for the first time. Back in the day, a trip to Kotva was as close as most Czechs could get to real luxury. Now, even after the arrival of modern-day shopping malls such as Palladium, which is located directly across the street from the old-fashioned department store, Kotva is still in business. Sarah Borufka talked to former Elle editor Jana Cíglerová, about what Kotva symbolized for those who lived under communism and how that has changed.
CzechInvest says it mediated investments worth CZK 17 billion in 2009, a fall of CZK 10 billion on the previous year. The state agency, whose task it is to attract foreign companies to the Czech Republic, also said the total number of new investment projects last year was one tenth lower than in 2008. Of the 184 fresh investments in 2009, almost half were in the field of research and development, which the head of CzechInvest, Alexandra Rudyšarová, said was proof that overseas firms were coming to the country to launch ever more demanding businesses.
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March 25, 1945 – the day the Americans bombed Prague deliberately