Business News

FWA tender bids closed

Tuesday, 15 August, 3 p.m. was the deadline for telecommunications companies to hand in their bids for a tender for three licences for Fixed Wireless Access networks in the 26 GHz band. The head of the Czech Telecommunications Office, David Stadnik, told reporters that 13 companies had applied for the licence. However, just hours before the deadline, one of the hottest candidates, FirstMark, said it would not take part in the tender, and the predicted winner, Callino, missed the deadline by half an hour, despite the fact that Callino's Prague headquarters are located just five minutes walking distance from the Czech Telecommunications Office. The FWA networks represent the so-called last-mile connection and make it possible for alternative operators to compete against the fixed-line monopoly operator, Czech Telecom, which owns the metallic lines and which is probably less than keen to lease them to its competitors after the market is liberalised. Experts say the tender is more important than last years' selection of the third mobile telephone operator or the granting of UMTS licences later this year.

Petrol prices continue rise, treasury worried about revenues

The long-term trend of rising petrol prices continued in the Czech Republic in July. The high prices have forced drivers to economise, which has subsequently caused worries for the Treasury. Deputy Finance Minister Eduard Janota said that lower petrol consumption has so far stripped the state budget off some 4 billion CZK, which is just over 100 million USD, in consumer tax.

Meanwhile, oil prices on world markets reached a decade high. Economic analyst Petr Zahradnik from the Conseq Finance company sees two possible consequences for the Czech economy.

Gas to replace gasoline?

And on a related note, Czech drivers will soon have an alternative to petrol and diesel as the state-owned gas distribution company Transgas has been working on a project to build a nation-wide network of gas stations. These are intended to compete with the current supply of diesel and petrol.

Czech exports to China surge in 2000

Czech exports to China have increased sharply in the first half of 2000 to a total value of nearly 40 million USD. However, although this represents an 85-percent year-on-year increase, Czech exports to China still amount to only about one tenth of Chinese exports to the Czech Republic.

Salaries in the banking sector keep rising

Salaries in the Czech banking sector have been rising steadily. According to the latest statistics, bank employees now receive 16 percent higher salaries than a year ago. The average salary in the banking sector is now almost double the national average. Salaries in the banking sector have been much higher than the national average for several years now, even though some of the largest banks were controlled by the state.

Labour minister drafts pension system reform

The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has drafted plans to reform the pension system. The key elements include the separation of the pension system from the state budget and the preservation of the current continuous financing in which retirement pensions are directly financed from pension insurance paid by people in their productive age. People will also be able to join pension insurance funds for individual savings. Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Vladimir Spidla said reform should prevent the collapse of the pension system, which, analysts say, might happen around the year 2020 in connection with the demographic development if the current system remained unchanged.

Air traffic controllers might spoil arrival of bankers for IMF/WB session

Czech newspapers say the Czech Transport Ministry has adopted measures to prevent air traffic controllers from going on strike during the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank that is to take place in September in Prague. Such a strike would put Prague's main airport, Ruzyne, out of action, jeopardising the prestigious international event. Air Traffic Control employees have been calling for higher wages and less overtime and went on strike a year ago to support their demands but were unsuccessful. Air traffic controllers later denied the claims, saying it was ready to tackle all problems connected with the arrival of tens of thousand participants for the IMF meeting.

INPEG: IMF&WB finance dictators

And staying with the IMF/World Bank meeting, the Czech Republic's Initiative Against Economic Globalisation or INPEG claimed this week that the two bodies supported dictatorships. The INPEG claims that they'd played a pivotal role in furthering corruption, poverty, military regimes and the mass violation of human rights in countries such as Chile, Indonesia, Russia, Venezuela and India, which have not only used the money lent by the IMF and World Bank to buy weapons rather than food and medicine for their people, but also used those weapons for repression or holding onto political power.

INPEG claims to be an umbrella organisation coordinating protests to accompany the IMF and World Bank annual meeting, which takes place in Prague in September. The organisation has launched a series of public rallies to inform the public of their manifesto - thorough reform of the two institutions or total abolition. Under the catchphrase "55 years of oppression" they highlight various negative practices of the Monetary Fund and the World Bank. INPEG organiser Chelsea Mozen explained what events are planned for the week when the session takes place.