Social Democrat MP Kraus accused of corruption, gives up influential posts; Civic Democrat MP Dolezal resigns from Parliament over corruption charges; Record number of cars produced last year; CzechInvest helped secure a 'record' 154 investment projects in 2005; Czech currency reaches all-time high against the euro; Record number of self-employed foreigners noted in 2005; Unient Communications set to become first 'virtual' mobile operator
Social Democrat MP Kraus accused of corruption, gives up influential posts
Michal Kraus, photo: CTK
The longest-serving Social Democratic MP, Michal Kraus, has said he will give up two influential functions - as head of the parliamentary budgetary committee and party deputies' grouping -amidst allegations of corruption. Kraus has been under pressure to explain why he agreed to participate in a dubious deal to buy a Ghanaian cocoa bean factory in 2001. The bestselling daily Mlada Fronta Dnes went so far as to suggest Kraus may have been involved in money laundering.
Civic Democrat MP Dolezal resigns from Parliament over corruption charges
Vladimir Dolezal, photo: CTK
Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, MP Vladimir Dolezal of the centre-right Civic Democratic Party, resigned from Parliament this week. He is under police investigation for allegedly mediating bribe for a Prague member of a local zoning board, worth 35,000 US dollars. Dolezal too denies any wrongdoing and will remain on the party ticket for elections this spring.
Record number of cars produced last year
A record 600,000 cars were manufactured in the Czech Republic last year. Almost a half million of those vehicles were produced by Skoda Auto, with the rest made by the Toyota, Peugeot, Citroen joint-venture plant that opened in February 2005. The TPCA plant has the capacity to make many more cars, up to 300,000 a year. A similar number could be produced by South Koera's Hyundai, if, as expected, it goes ahead with plans to builds a 1.2 billion dollar plant in the city of Ostrava.
CzechInvest helped secure a 'record' 154 investment projects last year
In related news, the Czech state agency for attracting investment, CzechInvest, said on Monday that it had helped secure 154 foreign and local investment projects worth 3.1 billion dollars last year - a record number of projects. CzechInvest head Tomas Hruda said the new projects would help create some 22,000 new jobs.
Czech currency reaches all-time high against the euro
In other news, the Czech crown rose to a record high against the common European currency this week, closing on Monday at 28.70 crowns to the euro. Analysts said they expect the crown to strengthen further this year, as the Central European region will benefit from investors for an alternative to the US dollar.
Statistical Office reports record number of self-employed foreigners
Illustrative photo: archive of Radio Prague
The Czech Statistical Office said this week that 65,000 foreigners hold Czech business licenses in the Czech Republic, a record high number. Vietnamese nationals account for nearly one-third of the licenses. Ukrainians make up the next largest group, followed by Slovaks and Russians.
Unient Communications set to become first 'virtual' mobile operator
Unient Communications is to be the first "virtual" mobile operator in the Czech Republic, with service due to start mid-year. Unient signed an interconnect agreement with Cesky Telecom this month. It has 200,000 phone numbers with a 799 prefix but has yet to reach an agreement with an existing operator. It hopes to sign on 100,000 customers this year.