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Czech Watch - 15 June 2000

15.6.2000 8:42
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Ailing IPB got an unreserved support from the government on Wednesday. Depositors meanwhile kept withdrawing money from the bank and it is estimated that the IPB may have lost as much as CZK 10 bil. this week only. The bank would not comment, but it did confirmed loss of CZK 17 bil. in first five months of 2000. The bank is indeed on a verge of collapse and getting closer every day. Interestingly, its list of current and past board members reads as who is who in Czech mish-mashed world of politics and finance. In different positions and different times, IPB has had on board Mr. Jurecka (a senator-candidate for the ODS), Mr. Klacek (CSSD economic supremo), Mr. Holman (Mr. Klaus' economic adviser), Mr. Tesar (CSSD founding member), Mr. Lobkowitz (former vice-chairman of the US), Mr. Tera (deputy finance minister, ODA member), Ms. Benesova (deputy to Mr. Klaus in the ODS), Mr. Hruby (former chairman of the FNM) and Mr.Weigl (another Mr. Klaus' adviser). Well, often even best people ain't enough… Mr. Klaus himself provided an explanation for the IPB problems. Not those advisers and deputies on boards, of course, but (no prize for guessing) the CNB's monetary policy.
Government was busy yesterday spending taxpayers' money as it pledged to pay CZK 6 bil. to the credit unions' members. To get some money for it, the government wants to shift many services to a higher VAT rate, and expects to cash CZK 6.5 bil. more next year.
Thanks heavens, but the koruna does not have many politicians on its board, so it remained calm yesterday at around 36 CZK/EUR. Shadowing the euro, it first gained 20 hallers against the dollar, only to lose it again during the afternoon and closing at 37.60 CZK/EUR, as it started.

(Ondrej Schneider)


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