Books on Czech Republic
% of GDP
Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)
In 1992 Bill Clinton campaigned on the need for change. It seemed a vacuous
slogan at the time. But he won and proved a winner again in 1996.
Change is the order of the day in the Czech Republic too. Many adults in the
Czech Republic believe a different party should be in charge of the national
administration, according to a poll published in Mlada fronta Dnes. 69 per cent
of respondents believe a change in government is necessary.
The Czechs have been ringing the changes for some time now, as it so happens. In
July 2004, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla resigned from his post following a
poor showing from the governing Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) in the
elections to the European Parliament. Social Democratic interim leader Stanislav
Gross took over, but resigned earlier last year following allegations regarding
the origin of funds borrowed to buy an apartment in Prague six years ago. CSSD
vice-chairman Jiri Paroubek-who served as regional development minister-formed a
new coalition administration in April 2005.
The next election to the Chamber of Representatives is tentatively scheduled for
June this year, two months after elections in Hungary. In the June 2002 ballot,
the CSSD elected 70 lawmakers to the 200-member Chamber of Representatives.
Recent voting intention polls put the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of
Mirek Topolanek as the most popular party in the European nation.
President Vaclav Klaus - a member of the ODS - maintains a high level of public
support. Only 27 per cent of respondents believe it is time to change the head
of state. Klaus was elected to a five-year term by the Parliament in 2003.
The form of the change - the Civic Democrats
The 'Third Way' of Tony Blair seems to be fizzling out in the UK, with the
Conservatives bounding back in the polls after the election of their new leader,
David Cameron, and the eclipse of the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy.
But in the Czech Republic it is still making headway.
The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Mirek Topolanek is still the top political
organization in the Czech Republic, according to a poll by STEM. 31 per cent of
respondents would vote for the ODS in the coming election to the Chamber of
The governing Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) is second with 25.9 per cent,
followed by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) with 14.2 per
cent, and the Christian and Democratic Union - Czech People's Party (KDU-CSL)
with 6.6 per cent.
Support is lower for the Green Party (SZ), the Freedom Union - Democratic Union
(US-DEU), the Political Movement Independents (NEZ), the Association of
Independents (SNK), Democratic Europe (ED) and the Independent Democrats
On Dec. 16, the Chamber of Representatives voted 87-54 with seven abstentions to
approve a law that legalizes same-sex civil unions in the Czech republic. Many
KSCM members supported the legislation proposed by the CSSD government. In order
to become official, the measure must be passed by the Senate and endorsed by
president Vaclav Klaus-a member of the ODS.
Skoda profit to top US$250m
Skoda Auto will report a record 2005 profit of more than six billion Czech crown
(US$253m), a Prague newspaper reported recently, quoting the Czech automaker's
Chairman, Detlef Wittig, did not reveal Skoda's profit figures, which will be
officially released in February. But Wittig told the Hospodarske noviny
newspaper that between and 2004 and last year the company's sales rose 20 per
cent to 188bn crown "and our profit grew even more." In 2004 the
company reported before-tax earnings of 4.8bn crown, compared with 2.5bn crown
in 2003. Wittig said strong demand for the Octavia model helped push Skoda's car
sales to a record 492,000 last year, up 10 per cent from 2004. Skoda, a unit of
Germany's Volkswagen, plans to increase output this year by expanding production
at its factories in Czech Republic, India, Bosnia-Herzegovinz, Kazakstan and
Komarek sells Fischer Air Polska
Polish company, Podroze TV SA, which operates a TV channel focusing on tourism
and two travel agencies - Open Travel Group and PES Travel acquired Fischer Air
Polska Atlantik IB owned by entrepreneur Karel Komarek, Hospodarske noviny (HN)
Podroze bought 100 per cent of the air carrier's shares. Neither side has
disclosed details of the transaction, HN said. Carlson Group that owns Podroze
TV SA last year invested nearly US$1bn in tourism, HN noted. Petr Lunak,
representing Atlantik IB, said Fischer Air Polska (FAP) was a strong company.
Karel Komarek's spokeswoman Marie Schorchtova last autumn said the company
expected a profit of some US$500,000 (12 million crown).
OMV completes acquisition of Aral filling stations
Central Europe's leading oil and gas group OMV has completed the acquisition of
70 Aral service stations in the Czech Republic. Through this transaction OMV
acquired the fourth biggest filling station network in the Czech Republic and is
number one in this growth market, New Europe reported.
The purchase of the Aral stations raises the number of OMV filling stations in
the Czech Republic from 146 to 216. OMV now owns 35 filling stations located on
motorways and highways, and 38 in and around Prague. The filling station market
in the Czech Republic has an annual volume of around 3.4 million tonnes and is
still growing. The acquisition adds new marketing volume for OMV in an important
European market. It also strengthens the regional position of OMV's Schwechat
refinery, which directly supplies the larger part of the Czech market, including
Prague, the country's economic hub.
OMV Deputy CEO, Gerhard Roiss, said, "This acquisition makes us the market
leader in the Czech Republic, where we have been active since 1991. As in our
other core markets, our long-term strategy here is to achieve a 20 per cent
In the Czech Republic all the newly acquired filling stations will be equipped
with VIVA shops, which will increase the number of OMV's VIVA shops in the Czech
Republic to 140.
Czech gas consumption falls 1.5% in 2005
Milan Smid of Bilancni centrum, which monitors gas supplies in the country told
CTK that last year natural gas consumption went down by 1.5 per cent to 9.55
billion cubic metres in the Czech Republic. In 2004, it was 0.5 per cent lower
on the year. Smid assigned the decrease above all to higher prices of gas
affected by world oil prices and the crown's rate to the dollar, New Europe
If prices of other energies go up at a slower pace, some of the customers can
opt for solid fuels, said Smid. Last year's consumption shows that the Czech
market has stabilised. Over the past few years consumption has been below 10
billion cubic metres with minor swings, said Josef Kastl of the Czech Gas
Association. "In the coming years, a similar development can be expected,
that is, a moderate steady growth in annual consumption of natural gas of
one-to-two percent," said Kastl. This also applies to European states. Last
year, gas prices increased repeatedly, the last rise
by a fifth seen in October. BP data show that gas consumption in European
countries was up by about three per cent in 2004. In 2025, gas consumption is
predicted to grow by 40 per cent in the former EU-15 countries against 2003
according to Eurogas data.
MINERALS & METALS
Norsk Hydro to buy Alulift for undisclosed sum
Norsk Hydro ASA will acquire Alulift, a Czech company offering aluminium
fabricated products to the Czech and eastern European markets, New Europe
The acquisition will provide a further bridgehead for expansion of sales into
eastern Europe and will add technical competence, Norsk Hydro said, without
giving financial details. Alulift has 65 employees and is located in
Tisice-Chrast, close to Prague, and the business will be fully integrated into
Norsk Hydro in the near future. The management and current owners of Alulift
will continue in management positions after Norsk Hydro takes over the company.
Chinese TV maker to invest in Czech Republic
Changhong Electronics, one of the biggest TV makers in China, will invest US$30
million to set up a TV production base in the Czech Republic. The new TV
assembly plant is an exclusively Changyong-owned enterprise named Changyong
Europe Electric S.R.O. With a registered capital of US$9.5 million, its main
business will focus on R&D, manufacturing and marketing consumer
electronics. According to Changhong, the establishment of Changyong Europe aims
at promoting its global strategy, popularising the Changhong brand and creating
a solid foundation for its products in the European market, New Europe reported.
Nokia tunes up to the Czech market
Managing Director of Nokia Czech Republic, Victor Saeijs, said that year 2006
will be one of mobile phones offering music, TV and imaging with better quality
cameras and optics. The Czech market is highly developed when it comes to mobile
communications, and the penetration of the market is very high at more than 110
per cent, New Europe reports.
Czech consumers love to use their mobiles not only to make phone calls but also
to send text messages. The Czech Republic has one of the largest and most
developed text messaging sectors worldwide, and the annual number of text
messages sent is higher than in many other European countries. Nokia is also
preparing new enterprise-optimised devices with more applications for operating
businesses remotely. In addition, the company expects an increase in sales of
slide-open mobile phones and wants to grow faster than the market. Because of
the robust competition between mobile operators and fixed-line providers makes
the Czech Republic market different when it comes to access the internet as
compared to the United Kingdom or the Netherlands where that hardly ever