Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Wednesday announced the details of a planned cabinet reshuffle. Trade and Industry Minister Marta Nováková will be leaving her post at the end of the month, together with Transport Minister Dan Ťok, who is leaving office at his own request following fierce criticism from opposition deputies. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe about the timing of the reshuffle and the reasons behind it.
February saw Czech industrial production experience a year-on-year growth of 1.5 percent, according to the latest Czech Statistics Office report released on Monday. The growth was mainly the result of energy production. The automobile manufacturing sector experienced a decline, but improved compared to previous months.
Czech carmaker Škoda Auto announced on Wednesday it sold a record 1.254
million vehicles last year, up 4.4 percent in annual terms.
Sales revenue also increased by 4.4 percent compared to the previous year and achieved the best result in its history.
Unconsolidated profit after tax fell 9 percent to CZK 28.89 billion, a drop the Volkswagen Group unit attributed in part to a 22 percent increase in investments into tangible assets last year.
Škoda Auto, the top Czech exporter, invested more than 500 million euros directly in plants and facilities in the Czech Republic in 2018.
Czech energy giant ČEZ has begun the construction of a pipeline running
from the Temelín nuclear power plant to the South Bohemian city of České
Budějovice. The CZK 1.4 billion project is expected to cover 30 percent of
the city’s heating needs once it is finished in 2021. The Czech
engineering and construction company Tenza has been put in charge of the
project, which aims to build two 26km long underground pipelines connecting
the power plant with the city.
It is hoped that thanks to the pipeline the local heating plant will be able to decrease the amount of coal it burns annually by 80,000 tons, lowering the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
The January figures for industrial production and the construction sector
show a year-on-year decline, analysts from the Czech Statistics Office
announced on Friday.
A 6.9 percent decrease in car manufacturing is seen as primarily
responsible for the 1 percent decline in overall industrial production.
Construction went down by 13.2 percent in comparison to figures in January 2018. The Czech News Agency reports this difference was due to more favourable weather conditions in the previous year, when an exceptionally warm January allowed construction firms to proceed with building projects unhindered.
Meanwhile, energy companies and pharmaceutical firms experienced an increase in production. Statisticians also reported an overall 1.9 percent increase in the number of orders issued to Czech companies.
The Supreme Audit Office says procrastination at the Trade and Industry
Ministry was partly to blame for problems with drafting EU funds for
research and innovation in the past few years.
An in-depth audit revealed that individuals and institutions who filed for an EU grant in 2016 had to wait a year for the ministry’s decision. This significantly reduced interest in grants over the next two years.
Consequently,the Czech Republic has only managed to draft ten percent of the 34.8 billion crowns that the EU placed at its disposal between 2014 and 2020.
Car-maker Škoda Auto has won a 780 million crown tender announced by the
Ministry of Finance to provide passenger cars to various state
institutions. The car manufacturer will provide over 1,370 vehicles to 10
ministries and subsidiary organisations. The Czech Republic’s prison
service has already received 30 Škoda Octavia models.
Škoda Auto had also won a 250 million tender to provide 4x4 drive passenger cars to the police, but the tender was cancelled by the country’s anti-monopoly office, which claimed its requirements unfairly favoured the Czech car-maker Auto against other bidders.
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