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Czech Watch - 31 October 2001

31.10.2001 9:34
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The International Monetary Fund mission to the Czech Republic made its final assessment on October 30 and urged the Cabinet not to convert massive privatization revenues to Czech currency, as it would unduly strengthen the koruna's exchange rate and undermine the Czech economy's competitiveness. The finance minister Jiri Rusnok said that the government might, instead, asked for privatization revenues to be paid in the Czech currency (don't ask us how this would help…) or that buyers might finance themselves on the Czech financial market (selling koruna-denominated bonds, for example, consequences of which the minister dod not elaborate on either). The IMF also slashed its forecast of the 2002 growth from 3.9% to 3.5% and criticized the governmet's expansionary fiscal policy, including the state budget proposal for 2002. The government has not bothered to react…

The UMTS licence sale collapsed yesterday, as the three mobile operators active in the Czech Republic declined to take part in the planned sale. An auction is now possibility, but its conditions are entirely unclear. The government has included CZK 20bn from the sale into its 2001 budget. Now, the finance ministry indicated that it might increase the amount and frequency of the bond auction in order to finance sinking state budge. Not surprisingly, this announcememt brought bond prices down, most sharply the 15Y government bond that shed 125 bps.

Main political parties remained neck-by-neck in the latest polls, published yesterday. The governing CSSD and the Quad Coalition would get 19.5% in an election, while the ODS would come within breath with 19%. Communists remain at their safe but unscalable 13%.

(Ondrej Schneider)

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