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Czech Watch - 8 August 2001

8.8.2001 10:00

- British immigration officials abandon checks of Czechs travelling to the UK at the Prague Ruzyne airport on August 9. Since the last three weeks about 120 people, mostly Roma, have been turned back. Britons claim that thanks to the checks the number of Czech asylum seekers in the UK has strongly fallen recently. Charge d'affaires of the British Embassy nevertheless stressed his country was ready to resume the checks if the number of Roma asylum seekers from the Czech Republic rises again. Czech Foreign Minister Kavan emphasized that there was a threat for a number of years that Britain would impose visa requirements on the Czech Republic and the checks at the airport were devised to prevent the danger. Kavan recalled that in recent days British courts had made a final decision for 120 appeals against the rejection of asylum requests by Czech citizens and only in less than ten cases the outcome had been positive, mostly on humanitarian grounds.

- According to the latest available minutes of the CNB Board meeting, Board members during their discussion on July 26 concluded that diverse information sources (incl. econometric models or expert polls) confirmed the need for reassessment of the Czech macroeconomic outlook in the period of accelerated economic performance. The economy was growing faster than it had been expected at the beginning of the year, and the inflation forecast was higher. CNB Board took into account that a rise in money supply combined with fiscal deficit could bring domestic demand to the point where it would start substitute foreign demand. Inflation expectations and their impact on wage acceleration were also discussed, with the conclusion that monetary policy should be preventive when responding to a potential increase in the expectations. Board members also discussed the extent of a possible rate increase and breaking down a potentially larger change into smaller steps. Moreover, the Board devoted part of their discussion to the latest revision of GDP data and to the food price development. The main reason for a rate-hike by 25bps unanimously approved at the end of the session was the uncertainty connected with how quickly cost pressures would spill over to demand pressures and inflation expectations in an environment of economic growth, a closing output gap and an expansive fiscal framework.

- Eurotel and RadioMobil submitted their bids in the first round of the tender for the UMTS mobile services, while Cesky Mobil announced that financial conditions were unacceptable for it and it would only take part in later rounds of the tender if they take place. The price of a licence was set at CZK 6.7bn in the first round. Both Eurotel and RadioMobil accepted the price but would like to negotiate on other tender conditions that would make the payment sweeter for them. There are rumors that the operators had namely asked for the payment to be spread over a longer period, for the possibility to deduct the investments from their tax base, and for a promise by Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) it would not grant a fourth licence. The steering committee for the UMTS licences met at CTU immediately after the applications were received. The second round of the tender should be declared by CTU as early as this month. In the second round, the licences not sold in the first round should be auctioned off.

- Euro weakness against the dollar strengthened the Czech crown against the common European currency on Tuesday. Late on the day the crown firmed to 33.81/84 to the euro from 33.90/93 late Monday. The crown/dollar was flat at 38.54/56 from late Monday.

- The state 6.95/16 bond rose 25 points from Monday's close to 99.45/75, yielding 7.01/97 %. The state 6.75/05 flat at 100.65/95, yielding 6.52/42 %. The state 6.40/10 jumped full 40bps to 96.90/20, yielding 6.88/83 %.

late August 7 bond yield late August 6
State 6.75/05100.65/956.52/42100.65/95
State 6.95/1695.45/757.01/9799.20/50

(Martin Kupka)

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