Business News

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In this week’s Business News: the government wants to keep electricity hikes at less than 10%; the IEA warns the Czech Republic to focus more on efficient energy use; one in three companies is looking to recruit; Czech cities running out of coal; and car sales up in the first eight months.

Nečas wants to keep energy price hikes to less than 10%

The Prime Minister says that the finishing touches are being put on government measures to keep a rise in the price of electricity at less than 10%. What those measures will entail however is still a matter of conjecture as a committee drawn from the ministries of finance, the environment and industry draft a proposal. According to the daily Hospodářské Noviny, the current inclination is towards using new taxes to compensate for the price of electricity. The opposition Social Democrats are pushing for taxing solar energy, while the Confederation of Industry wants to use the proceeds from extra sales of emissions permits. At present, households face 12% rises in the price of electricity and companies 17% due to increased financial support of solar power plants.

IEA: Czech Republic should make better use of its energy

Meanwhile, an audit carried out by the International Energy Agency says that the Czech economy needs to concentrate more on effective use of energy. According to the 28-state policy advisor, the Czech government should be focusing more on increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and supporting low-energy transportation. The Czech Republic’s energy intensity is more than double that of other IEA countries. The Minister of Industry Martin Kocourek says the coalition will heed the recommendation and back sustainable resources at a cost acceptable for consumers. The IEA also praised the Czech Republic for its climate-protection and energy security policies.

One in three Czech companies looking to recruit

One-third of Czech companies are planning to recruit new employees, according to the results of a survey conducted by the business support services company Regus. The company says that there were more job openings in the Czech Republic in July and August. Job applicants, however, increased by nearly 8,000 in the latter month. The economy has seen positive signs in the form of 12.9% growth in industrial production in August and a 2.8% increase in retail sales. Regus says that while 41% of companies are still trying to decrease their overheads, they are doing so in other ways than through layoffs.

Cities seek cheap coal as contracts with suppliers expire

Czech Television this week pointed to the fact that some Czech cities are having trouble ensuring reasonably priced brown coal as their long-term contracts with suppliers run out and they fear major increases in heating prices. The city of Plzeň has been the first to face such a situation and has now been looking for a brown coal provider for two years amid a lack of coal due to strict mining limits and a consumption rate of half a million tonnes of coal a year. For now the Plzeň heating plant foresees price increases in the tens, rather than hundreds of crowns, but admits it can only guess. Many other Czech towns face similar situations with most of their own contracts with coal suppliers set to expire between 2012 and 2015.

Car sales up, especially for Škoda

Škoda Fabia
Sales of personal automobiles prove to be on the rise in the Czech Republic, with growth of 6.8% in the first eight months of the year, or nearly 126,000 vehicles. Škoda came out far ahead of the competition with almost 40,000 cars sold, or four times more than Ford or Volkswagen. The favourite model has been Škoda Octavia, with more than 19,registered vehicles, followed by the Škoda Fabia and the Kia Cee´d. At the same time the slump in the sales of cargo vehicles at the beginning of the year has nearly stopped as the first eight months matched sales for the whole of 2009 and sales rose by half in September alone. The results are hoped to confirm a slightly improving trend in the economy and cautious optimism on the part of customers who are responding well to discounts and marketing drives.