The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Wednesday approved the state budget for next year. The budget projects a deficit of 100 billion crowns, or around 3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Compared to this year’s budget, the revenues are set to increase by 20 billion while expenditures should rise by 8 billion. During a debate in the lower house on Wednesday, MPs approved some minor changes including an additional 450 million crowns for welfare and social services. The opposition has criticized the budget over lower funds allocated for investment; these are set to reach 75 billion crowns next year, some 25 billion less than in 2014.
The Czech banking sector is sufficiently resilient to negative shocks, according to the results of stress tests released by the Czech National Bank on Wednesday. The tests suggest that the bank’s capital levels would remain above the 8-percent benchmark even under a scenario of a strong decline in the economic activity in the Czech Republic and abroad. The sector’s resilience is mainly based on its relatively high capital adequacy which in September exceeded 18 percent, the central bank said.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic remained at 7.1 percent in November, the same as the previous month, while the number of jobless fell by 2,130 to 517,508 and the number of vacancies rose by 1,180 against October to 59,397, the Employment Office announced on Monday. Year-on-year, unemployment was 0.6 percentage point lower in November. The number of those without jobs dropped by 47,805while the number of vacancies increased by 21,896. The Employment Office´s spokeswoman Kateřina Beránková said that industrial firms had proven to be in good condition with an interest in hiring new personnel. The situation on the labour market, she added, had been positively influenced not only by the economic recovery but also by the wrapping up of seasonal work. Demand is traditionally high for technical professions across all sectors - for example for milling machine operators, mechanics and electricians.
Many parents of children with autism and other disabilities complain over difficulties they face when applying for state support, the Czech National Disability Council said on Friday. The groups says that officials often do not recognize their entitlements and allocate lower allowances than granted by law. The head of the National Disability Council, Václav Krása, told reporters the number of complaints from parents had increased, and accused institutions of acting in breach of existing legislation.
In Business News this week: Czech Republic fails to use 12 billion crowns in EU subsidies in 2013; Czech household debts are steadily increasing; Aero Vodochody was ninth fastest-growing aircraft producer in world last year; investment group PPF reportedly planning to take over country’s biggest private chain of medical facilities; and Czech online retailers offer discounts on Black Friday.
The Czech economy grew by 2.4 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to revised figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Friday. Compared to the previous quarter, the country’s gross domestic product grew by 0.4 percent. Both figures are 0.1 percentage points higher than previous estimates. The Czech economic growth is stable, bigger than the EU average, and has a relatively sound base, the Statistics Office said.
Security at Czech ministries, government offices and other state institutions has been tightened after the Interior Ministry received another letter containing suspicious substance on Friday, the third such letter to have arrived at the ministry over the last weeks. One of the letters was found to contain poison. A poison letter also arrived at the Finance Ministry last week while envelopes containing harmless substances have been delivered to the office of the president and the commercial TV channel Prima. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told a news conference on Friday the police would closely monitor mail delivered to state institutions which would receive manuals on recognizing potentially dangerous shipments. Mr Chovanec also said he believed that the perpetrators would soon be traced.
Czech consumers can look forward to lower electricity bills in 2015. The country’s Energy Regulatory Office on Wednesday announced a 1.2 percent drop in the regulated price of electricity for households which should save consumers hundreds, if not thousands, of crowns annually. Although the regulated component only accounts for 60 percent of the final electricity price, most suppliers have confirmed that the price of electricity will drop.
Electricity prices in the Czech Republic are set to drop slightly in 2015 while gas prices are expected to rise - the Energy Regulatory Authority has said. The authority announced it had succeeded in being able to cut regulated costs for electricity by an average 2.1% next year for the biggest consumers and predicts that wholesale electricity prices will fall by 5% over 2015. ERU chairwoman Alena Vitaskova said the costs of supporting renewable energy are expected to be cut by two billion crowns. Among the major changes next year are increased support for new capacity for electricity production from burning biomass with other fuels and cogeneration of heat and electricity.
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