Business News

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Fresh graduates push unemployment up

The Czech unemployment rate increased to 9 percent in July, as compared to 8.7 percent in June. Employment offices attribute the increase to fresh school-leavers trying to prolong their holidays by applying for unemployment benefits in the summer before they start looking for work in September. The lowest rate of unemployment was recorded in Prague and Central Bohemia, between 3 and 4 percent, while the highest number of people out of work was in North-west Bohemia, where the figure exceeded 20 percent.

Inflation slightly higher in July

The Conspumer Price Index rose by 0.6 percent month-on-month in July to reach 3.9 percent year-on-year. The Czech Statistics Office said the rise in inflation was mainly due to higher prices in housing and leisure. However, it was partly compensated for by a slight decrease in the prices of food, tobacco and beverages. The Czech National Bank expects inflation to oscillate around the current level rather than accelerate, although we may see an impact of oil and food price fluctuations.

Senate throws out law on Central Bank

The Czech Senate has rejected a draft law on the Czech National Bank. The law had been sharply criticized for threatening the independence of the central bank, but observers expect the Lower House to overrule the Senate's veto. The Senators rejected the draft law on Friday, saying it conflicted with the constitution and also because some parts of it would in effect limit the central bank's independence. If the Lower Houses does bypass the Senate's decision, the law can still be vetoed by the president.

Austria concerned about oil leak at Temelin

Austria has expressed concern over a recent oil leak at the Temelin nuclear power station in southern Bohemia. A spokesman for the Austrian environment ministry said the Austrian government was requesting a detailed report on the technical failure which led to the accident. The power utility CEZ which built the plant and is now preparing to put it into trial operation, reported on Friday that an unspecified amount of oil had leaked from a turbine into the plant's drainage system and that there had been no impact on the environment.

Car exports up

Czech car exports rose in the first half of this year by over fifteen percent. This is an important statistic for the Czech economy, as Skoda cars are the biggest single Czech export, amounting to over eight percent of the total figure. Germany was the largest market followed by Britain and Slovakia. At the same time, car imports have increased by a similar figure, reflecting a gradual increase in Czech consumer confidence.

Czech found guilty of organising illegal employment in USA

A Czech national, Roman Kosmel, has been found guilty by a U.S. federal court of a total of nine crimes, mainly involving the employment of immigrants without work permits, as well as money-laundering and fraudulent marriage. Kosmel could face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.

Plans to remove discrimination of women by employers

The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has unveiled a plan to fight discrimination against women in employment. According to the data currently available, a woman working in the Czech economy is paid something like three quarters of the wage a man would receive in the same position. Ten years ago, the figure was more than 80 percent--a sign that the gap is actually widening. The law even lists certain jobs that women are banned from doing. Lenka Zamykalova, a research analyst from the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs, identifies the main problems: Recently, the Czech Republic adopted a law aimed at prevent discrimination of job applicants on the grounds of race, sex or age. However, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs says the law doesn't go far enough, and is planning action in several areas. Firstly, it intends to remove the restrictions on women in employment, saying technology has advanced to such an extent that most jobs are no longer dangerous for women. Secondly, the ministry wants to enforce obligations stemming from international agreements. But the ministry not only wants to do away with existing discrimination, but also intends to introduce some kind of affirmative action to get more women into leading positions in the state administration. All this despite the largely negative experience of positive discrimination in other countries. Lenka Zamykalova doubts affirmative action can work in the Czech Republic. Economic revival

According to the latest data provided by the Czech Statistics Office, Czech industrial production increased by more than 6 percent year-on-year in June. At the same time, labour productivity rised by an incredible 10 percent year-on-year. I spoke to economic analyst Radomir Jac from Commerzbank and asked him whether the the economic revival could be attributed to the governments efforts to restructure the Czech Republic's troubled heavy industry.