Business News

Transformation of railways to go ahead

The Czech government has taken the first steps towards liberalising railway transport in the Czech Republic. Earlier this week the government approved a law on transformation of Czech Railways into a state-owned joint-stock company, paving the way for future privatisation. The tracks will be entrusted to a separate state-controlled company so that more than one carrier can operate on the network. At the same time, the state will take on Czech Railway's debts of some 38 billion Czech crowns, which have accumulated since 1993 as losses from passenger transport. More from the spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, Michal Hala.

Michal Hala from the Ministry of Transport. The transformation of Czech Railways has been dragging on for many years, as four governments tried to find the best solution but all their efforts failed for various reasons. We'll be taking a closer look at the issue in the coming weeks,.

TIME conference to be held in Prague in April

A conference on modern telecommunication and information technology is to be held in Prague at the beginning of April. It's being organised by the Swedish Embassy, the Swedish Trade Council and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. The conference is called TIME - which stands for Telecommunications, Information Technology, (New) Media and Entertainment, and is being held under the auspices of the Czech Finance Ministry. The aim of the Conference is not only to support the view that Sweden is in the Czech Republic as a forerunner in the aforementioned areas, but also to familiarise Swedish companies with the Central European region. Swedish investment accounts for approximately 2 percent of the total FDI flowing into the Czech Republic. Martin Jahn is the director of the government agency CzechInvest, whose job is to attract foreign investment to the country.

That was Martin Jahn, director of CzechInvest. In next week's edition of Economic Report, we'll be talking to the head of the Swedish Trade Council in Prague about Czech-Swedish trade relations and the TIME conference.

Oskar celebrates 1st birthday

And staying with telecoms, and the Czech Republic's third operator - Cesky Mobil - which runs the Oskar network, celebrated its first birthday on March 1. Despite predictions that the newcomer would have a hard time on the market, Oskar managed to attract a considerable number of customers in its first year - 300,000 - becoming the fastest growing mobile phone operator in the Czech Republic. It has also extended its coverage to 98 percent of the Czech population, a goal it was supposed to accomplish by the end of 2003. Nevertheless, there are still some gaps on the map. I talked to spokesman Igor Prerovsky, and asked him first whether Oskar was going to fill those gaps.