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The prime minister wants a referendum if the euro is to be adopted; a new natural gas line opens to the north; passenger car production up; the government shells out 11.7 billion on operation of renewable energy sources; and Czech Television stops advertising.

Nečas wants referendum if euro is to be adopted

Foto: archiv Radia Praha
Prime Minister Petr Nečas says a referendum should precede any adoption of the euro in the Czech Republic. Speaking after a meeting with members of the European Parliament this week the prime minister said that the eurozone had changed dramatically since the Czech Republic´s entry into the EU and has become a debt and transfer union rather than a monetary union. The treaty of accession to the European Union, which took effect in 2004, stipulates that the Czech Republic must join the eurozone, but does not set a date. Mr Nečas repeated that his government is unwilling to set a timeframe for adoption of the euro.

New natural gas line opens to the north

Václav Klaus, photo: CTK
The first gas transfer station bringing natural gas from outside the post-Soviet east opened in Northern Bohemia this week. President Vaclav Klaus cut the ribbon on this part of the 10-billion-crown project, which connects the existing network to the new Baltic gas pipeline Nord Stream. An additional pipeline next year will bring gas through the west of the country to southern Germany. The connection of the transit lines should reduce the risk to natural gas supplies stemming from occasional disputes between Russia and former Soviet countries, which are traversed by the current transit gas pipelines. One such row between Russia and Ukraine caused a major gas crisis in 2009.

Government shells out 11.7 billion on operation of renewable energy sources

The Czech government is planning a 11.7 billion-crown investment in operating renewable energy sources again next year. The better part of the investment is earmarked for support of solar energy. The number of solar power plants shot up last year and their maintenance will cost the state more than 22 billion in 2012, which is roughly two-thirds of the total amount for operating renewable energy sources. This means yet another hike in the cost of electricity, since the plants are funded only in part through government grants. Energy prices are expected to rise by 4.3% on average for households next year and 6.2% for companies, according to the proposal submitted to the government by the Ministry of Labour. The source of the 11.7 billion is the 26% tax on solar energy plants introduced this year as well as the 32% tax on free emissions vouchers.

Passenger car production up

Production of passenger cars in the Czech Republic rose by 11.4% between January-September of this year, up to nearly 900,000. Information published by the Automotive Industry Association shows growth driven primarily by Skoda Auto and Hyundai car makers and indicates a healthy situation in the Czech car industry. Overall results for 2011 may thus exceed the record production from the last year, when domestic car manufacturers produced over 916,000 road vehicles of all categories. Skoda Auto raised output by 21.5% to more than 500,000 cars; Hyundai Motor Czech produced about 175,000. On the other hand, car maker TPCA Kolín saw production drop by over 11 percent.

Czech Television to stop advertising

Czech Television will stop broadcasting advertisements from Saturday due to a fuzzy legal situation arising from new legislation. The lost revenue will amount to 88 million more than expected, and will affect primarily the state cinematic fund. The public broadcaster informed that it has cancelled its contracts with advertisers and warned that it may have to compensate for damages, while pointing out that it was not responsible for the situation, which arose from a mistake in the legislative process. The cancellation of advertising will also apply to teleshopping and ads on the broadcaster’s websites. Commercials can continue on Czech Television 2 and 4, where there are nonetheless fewer options for advertising.