ANO leader and minister of finance Andrej Babiš has said that he believes
the near 70 percent state controlled power company ČEZ should be able to
finance the construction of a new nuclear reactor at Dukovany from its own
resources. Babiš’ comments came during a visit to the nuclear reactor
site on Friday. The minister pointed out that ČEZ has one of the lowest
debt levels of all major European electricity companies and should be able
to cover the preparation and construction costs on its own.
How to finance new nuclear reactors has been a major issue within the coalition government after it announced last year that it would not guarantee the price of electricity from new nuclear reactors. ČEZ immediately afterwards cancelled its ongoing tender for two new reactors at its Temelín site. Dukovany’s existing four reactors are likely to be phased out between 2035 and 2037.
‘IMF approved’ is probably a badge that the Czech government ministers, finance ministry officials, and central bank policy setters could wear with pride after the latest visit and assessment from the international economic watchdog and advisor. The latest report is broadly upbeat but contains the customary dose of caution and advice.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted Czech growth would reach 3.0 percent this year but slowdown in the mid-term to around 2.25 percent. A previous estimate saw growth this year at 2.5 percent. Inflation would be above zero this year before rising towards 2.0% in 2016, the report unveiled in Prague added. The overall tone of the report said that the foundations for strong growth were being laid but criticised aspects of the labour market, tax administration, and public spending. The IMF head of mission Costas Christou said that steps should be taken rapidly to enshrine the target for the structural deficit not to exceed 1.0 in national legislation.
Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek has said that the European Union should prolong current sanctions against Russia in a month’s time. The comments were made in an interview with the Russian internet news server Gazeta.ru. Zaorálek said that there is evidence that Moscow continues to give heavy weapons to the separatists around Donbas and in the rest of Eastern Ukraine. It is also clear that thousands of Russian troops are planted not just on the Russian side of the border but also across it in Ukraine, he added. Russia denies direct involvement in the fighting between separatists and the government in Kiev. Minister Zaorálek’s comments contrast with the suggestion by president Miloš Zeman a week ago that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine appeared sporadic and that sanctions against Russia might be dropped by the end of the year if Moscow was shown to be abiding by the Minsk ceasefire conditions.
The Czech economy grew by 3.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015, significantly faster than in the last quarter of last year, according to the preliminary GDP estimate released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. The numbers year-on-year represent the fastest economic growth since mid-2008. This is a first flash estimate which could still see changes due to regular revisions. Strong results in the field of manufacturing, especially the manufacture of motor vehicles and other transport equipment and also machinery, were of key importance, statisticians confirmed. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka commented the results, saying the data reflected the current economic policy course set by the cabinet. He said the government had left behind a policy of cuts and austerity implemented by the former centre-right government, backing exports and employment.
The Ministry of Finance is making concessions to the lobbying from betting companies, the global corruption watchdog Transparency International and Občané proti hazardu public association announced on Thursday. The ministry has reportedly softened the draft lottery law, leaving out certain measures for protecting gamblers and cancelling limits on the number of gambling venues and the amount a person can win or lose. The head of Transparency International, David Ondráčka, said the ministry should return to the original draft of the legislation. The Finance Ministry has denied the accusations.
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