March retail sales rose 5.0% y/y. In comparison with February, the sales increased by 1.3% (seasonally adjusted). In March, similarly to the previous month, the sales were mainly affected by an increase in sales of fuel and sales in non-specialised stores with food dominated by large retail chains. In total, sales in services rose 3.1% in the first quarter of 2002. The development differed from one branch to another: sales in transport dropped 0.1%, in hotels and restaurants rose 2.7%, in post and telecommunications rose 9.0%. Sales in services for businesses increased 0.6%, sales in private services dropped 3.5%.
Ludek Niedermayer, Vice-Governor of CNB, criticized in an interview for daily Respekt the way the Czech state uses privatization income. To be precise, he said: “the way the state handles the money from privatization looks to be a deterrent example of how it should not look like”. Vice-Governor also remarked investment incentives, he considers them to be economically ineffective but necessary from the international competitiveness point of view connected with the effort of neighboring countries.
The National Property Fund made it difficult for the Czech electricity company CEZ to acquire eight regional distributors yesterday. Realization of governmental decision was broken twenty minutes before the beginning of EGM of CEZ as FNM officials announced the acquisition faces some technical and legislative obstructions. If the sector will not be restructured till the June election, the question of electricity privatization would be still open.
Czech Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok said yesterday he would raise the issue of the planned sale of Cesky Telecom with cabinet ministers. The Government froze the tender last month after two shortlisted bidders failed to meet the Cabinet’s minimum target price of CZK 60bn.
U.S leading economic indicators index showed an unfavorable developmnet of the American economy. The index of Conference Board fell 0.4% in April to the lowest level from last year’s September, reflecting lower stock prices, a slip in consumer confidence, higher job claims and a drop in money supply.
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