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Czech Watch - 16 August 2001

16.8.2001 10:28

- According to CEO Dalibor Zeleny, state subsidy for public passenger transport by the Czech railway carrier Ceske drahy (CD) equals now 54 % of its real value in 1993. The transport volume has remained about the same. The subsidy amounted to CZK 6.1bn in 1993 but it is planned to shrink to CZK 5.7bn this year. For 2002, the Transport Ministry proposes a CZK 8.2bn subsidy for the passenger transport but Zeleny does not believe the proposal would be endorsed. As of Jan 1, 2001 the state has to fully cover the costs of all passenger transport it orders. CD decided not to hike the rail fares on passenger trains until 2002. Last time the fare rose 5 % at the end of January.

- The Ministry of Industry and Trade plans to spend nearly CZK 4.0bn next year on winding down mining activities and on land reclamation. The total available funds of the Ministry should be CZK 8.5bn. In 2001, the balance has been slightly more favorable for extra-mining activities: CZK 4.3m are earmarked for mining-related activities out of overall expenditures of CZK 9.5bn. Another priority of the Ministry for 2002 is the support of investment incentives and industrial parks at a level that would not lag behind that of 2001 (CZK 520m). Subsidies for small and medium-sized business are proposed to fall from this year's CZK 1.3bn to CZK 1bn next year. Expenditures on R&D should be cut from CZK 1.2bn to Kc1.0bn.

- Nuclear power plant Temelin finished the first test of its turbine after a three-month shutdown. Fission reaction in the reactor was started up again on Sunday morning. Temelin’s reactor was shut down on May 4 due to a deformation of one of the three low-pressure parts of the turbine. Temelin's suppliers Skoda Praha and Skoda Energo will thoroughly analyze the results of the test and make necessary adjustments. On Wednesday morning, the output of the reactor’s first block was maintained at 2.5 %. In the following months, the start-up process will continue with tests employing step by step 55 %, 75 %, 90 % and, finally, 100 % of the first block’s nominal output. The reactor could be then put into trial operation at the turn of 2001.

- A recent poll by STEM revealed that 48 % of young Czechs (aged 18 to 29 years) would accept a job in the EU once their country joins the bloc, presumably in 2004. Across the population in the working age, though, only 20 % of respondents were considering moving to the European Union for at least six months to find work. The EU wants to restrict labor movement from acceding countries for up to seven years because of primarily German and Austrian fears of a heavy influx of cheap workers from their eastern neighbors. Czech officials have repeatedly stressed their readiness to lobby in the EU against the prepared restrictions via bilateral negotiations.

- The Czech crown closed Wednesday's trading slightly lower against the euro as the EUR jumped against the USD. The crown closed at 33.91/94 to the euro from 33.86/89 on Tuesday. The crown/dollar rate firmed to 37.21/23 up from late Tuesday’s 37.47/50.

- Bond prices rose in the morning, owing to investors buying long government issues and selected corporate titles. In the afternoon, though, sell-offs pulled prices back, close to the starting levels. Swap rates rose significantly late on Wednesday. Trading was erratic as expectations of interest rate hikes prevailed on the market but opinions about their size differed. In the late afternoon, the longest 6.95/16 state bond was trading at 99.30/60, 5 bps down from late Tuesday, yielding 7.02/99 %. The 6.75/05 returned to its late Tuesday's level of 100.65/95, yielding 6.52/42 %.

Late on August 15 bond yield Late on August 14
State 6.75/05100.65/956.52/42100.65/95
State 6.95/1699.30/607.02/9999.35/65

(Martin Kupka)

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