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Czech Watch - 6 August 2001

6.8.2001 9:00
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- A U.N. Human Rights Committee criticized treatment of Roma in the Czech Republic and called it a serious human rights problem. The committee, comprising of 18 internationally acknowledged experts, declared that the steps taken by the Czech state to improve living conditions of Roma had not apparently brought improvement and that discrimination de facto persisted. Last month the European Romany Rights Center (ERRC) in Budapest said that Roma in the Czech Republic continued to be a victim of a wave of racially motivated violence and pervert racial discrimination in almost all spheres of life.

The Czech National Bank already displayed on its website a contract from June 19, 2000 guaranteeing CSOB six months of refinancing on demand of its obligations arising from the purchase of IPB. According to the contract, CSOB can also ask CNB within three years to cover possible losses that would arise from changes in ownership structure and for two years to be given compensation for assets that were not found and for unregistered obligations. CNB also provided a guarantee for all possible claims and obligations originating in off-balance transactions, provided the overall value of these claims amounts to at least CZK 50m.

- CTK reported that all major Czech insurance companies (except for IPB Pojistovna) raised billed premiums by more than 10 % year-on-year in 2001H1, first of all owing to growing interest in tax deductible life insurance. Experts say that life insurance may become the engine for the growth in the insurance market in the coming years. Ceska pojistovna, with billed premiums amounting to CZK 18.4bn, remained the largest insurer in the country. Kooperativa ranked second with billed premiums equal to CZK 7.5bn, ahead of Allianz with CZK 3.85bn. Insurance in the Czech Republic is still below the European average and experts estimate that it will need at least five to six years to catch up.

- The board of Prague's Charles University (UK, founded in 1348) warned that the low level of remuneration of employees is unsustainable in the long-term. Also the volume of money invested in necessary renovation of the school's equipment and infrastructure was untenably low. The board declared that the financial situation of UK seriously threatened its fundamental activity and further development. The declaration was approved also with regard to the draft budget of the Education Ministry for 2002. Many schools had admitted more students this year in expectation of promised higher subsidies, but higher subsidies have not been part of the 2002 draft budget.

- On Friday, the Czech crown oscillated in a narrow range of 33.84-97 to the euro in quiet trading. The CZK/EUR closed practically unchanged from late Thursday's level at 33.96/98. The crown/dollar firmed to 38.41/44 from 38.56/58 late Thursday.

- The state 6.95/16 bond rose 30 basis points at 99.50/80 from late Thursday, yielding to 7.00/97 %. The state 6.75/05 rose five points at 100.65/95, yielding 6.52/42 %. Corporate bonds were relatively more demanded than government bonds. KB 8.00/04 gained 65bps, Unipetrol 9.00/04 and Skoda Auto 7.25/05 rose 50bps. The most important macroeconomic news scheduled for the next week will be CPI growth in July to be released on Wednesday.

late August 3 bond yield late August 2
CZK/EUR33.96/98-33.97/00
CZK/USD38.41/44-38.56/58
State 6.75/05100.65/956.52/42100.60/90
State 6.95/1699.50/807.00/9799.20/50


(Martin Kupka)

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