In Business News: the Czech crown reached a record high against the euro this week; the average gross monthly wage grew to almost 19,000 crowns in the third quarter; the anti-monopoly office has imposed a fine of over 8 million dollars on Cesky Telecom for abusing its market dominance; and the prices of gas, electricity and heating are set to rise from the start of next year.
Czech crown reaches strongest ever level against euro
It also strengthened due to a new, higher rating on the outlook for the Czech economy from the agency Standard & Poor's. Analysts polled by the CTK news agency said they believed the crown was overvalued by about 2 percent.
Average gross monthly wage up to almost 19,000 crowns
Wages grew fastest in the public sector. Employees in the financial sector, including banks, insurance companies and brokerage firms, received the highest average wage of nearly 1400 US dollars per month, almost three times more than the lowest wage of 550 US dollars, for those working in hotels and restaurants.
Meanwhile, some companies are rebuffing union demands for wage increases, arguing that their tax home pay will increase due to changes to planned tax breaks that go into effect next year.
Anti-monopoly office fines Cesky Telecom for abusing dominant position
The Czech Republic's anti-monopoly office has levied an 8.3 million US dollar fine on the country's dominant fixed-line operator, Cesky Telecom. The anti-monopoly office said in a statement that since 2002, Cesky Telecom had linked prepaid minutes and fixed monthly charges, and therefore had abused its dominant position on the local telecommunications market.
The head of the office, Martin Pecina, said in some cases Cesky Telecom had made it impossible for customers to order one service without signing on to antoher. Rival operators have repeatedly complained about the company's pricing policy. The Swedish operator Tele2 filed a lawsuit this February accusing Cesky Telecom of breaching both Czech and European Union competition regulations.
EC inquiry into proposed Tesco acquisition of Carrefour's Czech, Slovak units extended
The European Commission has extended until December 23 its inquiry into the British retail chain Tesco's proposed acquisition of its French competitor Carrefour's Czech and Slovak units. The Commission did not reveal why the deadline had been extended.
The AFP news agency notes that the EU executive branch extends competition inquiries if the companies involved submit remedies to allay competition concerns, or if a national competition authority asks it to rule on a deal.
Gas, electricity, heating set to rise in price from January
Meanwhile, the start of January will also see the arrival of competition in the electricity sector, with customers able to choose their supplier for the first time.
Senate vote paves way for forced purchase of land for new Prague Airport runway
The forced purchase of land for the construction of a new runway at Prague's Ruzyne airport has been given the green light, after the Senate surprised many by not rejecting an expropriation bill this week. Airport authorities say the airport will need the new runway from 2009 or 2010 at the latest due to a growth in traffic.