In Business News: electricity prices are set to rise sharply in 2007, after an auction held by producer CEZ; Amnesty International criticises arms exports from the Czech Republic; the number of passenger cars in the Czech Republic stands at just over 4 million, with the three most popular models all Skodas; and Czech exchange offices are losing a lot of business as more and more tourists use bank cards.
Electricity prices to rise considerably after CEZ auction...
...while minister calls on CEZ to help those on lower incomes
Industry and Trade Minister Milan Urban (of the Social Democrats) reacted to the news of next year's increase in electricity prices by saying some of CEZ's profits should go to those on low incomes, as a form of compensation. The right-wing Civic Democrats slammed the proposal, which they described as socialistic.
Czech weapons exported to some states used to kill civilians, says Amnesty
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticised the export of Czech arms to Ethiopia, Angola, Nigeria, Columbia and Saudia Arabia. Amnesty says Czech made weapons have been used to kill civilians in those states. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said, however, that the Czech Republic respected international agreements and monitored exports. Last year Czech authorities rejected permission to export arms in nine cases, said Amnesty. Approval was granted in 1,471 cases, the highest number since 1999.
Passenger car numbers pass 4 million, Skodas dominate
The number of passenger cars registered in the Czech Republic now stands at just over four million, the Association of Automotive Industries announced this week. The average age of cars on the Czech roads is almost 14 years. As for individual models, the most popular is the Skoda Felicia, followed by the old-school Skoda 105/120 and the Skoda Favorit. The Ford Escort is the most popular imported car.
Record profits for Skoda Auto
Meanwhile, Skoda Auto announced record profits this week. It netted almost 6.5 billion CZK in the first half of this year, up from around 4 billion in 2005. Sales increased by 12.5 percent.
Exchange offices lose business as tourists use cards, euros
Exchange offices in the Czech Republic are losing business as more and more tourists use bank cards, Lidove noviny reported. The fall has been dramatic - offices say they are doing just half the business they did last year. But bank cards aren't only reason: more and more Czech shops and restaurants are now accepting euros. There are currently almost 3,000 licensed exchange bureaux in the country - analysts expect 20 to 30 percent of them to close in the next few years.