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Czech Watch – 16 October 2001

16.10.2001 9:59

- Deputy Finance Minister Janota told CTK that the Finance Ministry was drafting alternative 2002 budgets ready to replace the submitted draft budget in case the latter would be rejected in the first reading in the Parliament. In alternative proposals, the Ministry plans additional spending on universities or enhanced security measures while keeping the current budget gap. "There have also been some ideas as to where to make necessary cuts, but I do not want to comment on this prematurely," Janota added and stressed that it was impossible to propose a budget with a higher deficit to the deputies. The first reading of the draft budget for 2002 in the Chamber of Deputies is scheduled for tomorrow. Prime Minister Zeman announced on Sunday that if the ODS would not pass the budget through, the CSSD could come up with a new budget with a deficit higher by some CZK5bn. The CSSD would like to spend this extra money on universities and on tighter security measures following last month's terrorist attacks in the USA. If the draft budget for 2002 is not passed by the Parliament, the government will have to live on a stopgap budget next year. A stopgap budget would negatively affect first of all government investment, civil servants whose wages would remain flat, and regions which would be short of funds to finance institutions taken over from the state administration. On the other hand, a stopgap budget would not affect pensions, social benefits, state support on mortgages and home-building savings, and debt financing, explained Janota.

- The Czech National Bank's monetary base stood at CZK 224.0bn in late September, up from CZK 219.5bn at end August and up 1.6 % year-on-year. The monetary base consists of currency, mandatory minimum reserves and voluntary deposits by commercial banks at central bank accounts, and cash reserves. Central banks use the monetary base to control monetary aggregates and, in the end, inflation.

- The government decided to transfer CZK 11.0bn from the proceeds of the sale of Komercni banka (KB) to the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure and CZK 6.56bn to the Housing Fund. The Finance Ministry further proposes that the Ceska inkasni get CZK 2.0bn and the National Property Fund (FNM) CZK 0.44bn first of all for the repair of environmental damage. The remaining CZK 20bn will remain at the FNM's privatization account at the Czech National Bank in order to be spent on covering the losses of the Czech Consolidation Agency (CKA).

- The Czech Telecoms Office (CTU) hands over the altered terms of the tender for the third-generation mobile telephone network (UMTS) licences to mobile operators today. The alteration is a compromise between proposals of mobile operators and CTU's original terms. Originally, CTU required operators to pay CZK 6.7bn for a licence in two installments, one in 2001 and the other next year. Eurotel and RadioMobil were ready to accept the terms on condition that the installments would be spread over 20 years. Cesky Mobil refused to accept the terms completely but later asked CTU to resume talks.

- The Czech crown had firmed vis-a-vis the euro from the opening 33.55 CZK/EUR to 33.45 early in the morning yesterday and stayed close to the new exchange rate throughout the rest of the day owing to prevailing bets on further FDI flow to the CR. Late in the afternoon, CZK/EUR was trading at 33.45/48, slightly up from 33.48/51 on Friday. Against the dollar, the crown had opened at 36.66 CZK/USD but weakened later up to 36.88/90, a level unchanged from late Friday’s close.

- Bond prices slightly rose on Monday, primarily owing to increased investors´ appetite for long state bonds. Price gains – whenever they occurred in that segment - stayed within a price spread. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark gained 20bps to 107.60/90, yielding 6.13/10 %. The state 6.75/05 bond was trading flat from Friday’s close at 103.45/70, yielding 5.57/49 %.

Late on October 15 bond yield Late on October 12
State 6.75/05103.45/705.57/49103.46/71
State 6.95/16107.60/906.13/10107.40/70

(Martin Kupka)

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