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Czech Watch – 2 October 2001

2.10.2001 9:04

- The Transport Ministry announced on Monday through CTK that it had limited the air space over the nuclear power stations of Temelin and Dukovany at the request of the National Security Council on Friday. Regional flight traffic control and military centers are responsible for granting permission to civilian planes asking to fly in the air space near the power stations. The no-fly zones over the stations are not affected by the limits placed on the air space.

- The Czech Republic's state budget deficit shrank to CZK 2.9bn in September 2001 from CZK 4.9bn a year earlier. For January to September, the gap widened from CZK 17.3bn last year to CZK 22.6bn at the end of September 2001. Budget revenues have totalled CZK 454.6bn and expenditures CZK 477.2bn so far this year. State budget for 2001 had been approved with a deficit of CZK 49bn, including KoB's loss for 2000; laws on bonds that have been passed later allow the deficit to grow to CZK 95bn. Budget revenues were CZK 22.6bn lower and expenditures CZK 36.7bn lower in January to September 2001 than planned. Unlike collection of the corporate tax, individual income tax, and excise duty, which was each above expectations in September, collection of the VAT was lower than predicted. Tax collection in January to September reached 72.7 % of the full-year budget. The negative difference between the collected pension insurance premiums and paid pensions stood at CZK 14.4bn in September.

- The Ministry of Industry and Trade is going to propose to the Czech government setting up of a 13-member Investment Council for Revitalization. The Council would care for the continued revitalization of companies via the “Exit” and “Rozvaha” programs. The cabinet is proposed to mandate Minister Gregr to appoint the Council bringing together representatives of seven ministries (industry and trade, finance, transport and communications, local development, agriculture, labor and social affairs, environment), with representatives of the Government Office, the National Property Fund, the Confederation of Industry, and the CKA. The Exit and Rozvaha programs have been drafted to revitalize companies with direct state interest or where the government is a creditor, and which are currently in the portfolio of CKA's assets or will be transferred there through financing their obligations and restructuring, including a change in ownership. Unlike the Exit program that would facilitate the sale of government claims or holdings to third parties, Rozvaha would concern the revitalization of selected companies.

- Insurance companies operating in the Czech market reported a CZK 2.15bn profit in 2001H1, up 22.1 % year-on-year. Costs rose 75.7 % at CZK 273bn and revenues 75.1 % at CZK 275bn. Billed premiums rose by 8.2 % year-on-year to CZK 43.6bn and paid insurance claims increased by 21.9 % to CZK 18.9bn. Ceska pojistovna continued to be the largest insurer with CZK 18.4bn billed premiums and market share around 42 %. Next came Kooperativa with billed premiums amounting to CZK 7.5bn and Allianz with CZK 3.95bn.

- The Czech crown was calm on Monday, traded volumes stayed below average. CZK did not lose vis-a-vis EUR, despite EUR´s gains against USD. Ongoing speculations on CZK strengthening owing to payment for KB pushed the crown upward. Against the dollar, the crown opened at 37.23, but broke through the 37.00 level early in the afternoon and than attacked 36.90. CZK/EUR was trading at 33.78/81 late on Monday, up from 33.88/91 on Thursday evening. CZK/USD firmed to 36.89/91, slightly above late Thursday’s 36.91/93.

- Bond prices on the long end of the yield curve went up on Monday morning ahead of the CZK 5bn auction of the new state bond 6.55/11. In the afternoon, state budget data for September further strengthened positive sentiment on the market. The wave of purchases peaked after auction results had been announced (demand reached CZK 13.7bn, yields were 6.22-6.25 %). Despite some profit taking later on the day, issues on the long end of the yield curve strengthened significantly compared to late Thursday. Bonds with short maturities, in contrast, stagnated or even dropped. The longest state 6.95/16 bond gained 35bps to 105.10/40, yielding 6.39/36 %. The state 6.75/05 bond lost 25bps to 103.10/35, yielding 5.70/62 %.

Late on October 1 bond yield Late on September 27
State 6.75/05103.10/355.70/62103.35/60
State 6.95/16105.10/406.39/36104.80/10

(Martin Kupka)

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