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Czech Watch - 2 August 2001

2.8.2001 11:11
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- Central budget deficit reached CZK 23.6bn in July (after CZK -2.1bn in July 2000 and CZK -29.7bn at the end of June). Budget revenues amounted to CZK 353.2bn and expenditures totalled CZK 376.8bn. The full-2001 budget was approved with a deficit of CZK 49.0bn, including last year's loss posted by Konsolidacni bank. In July alone, the state budget showed a surplus of CZK 11.2bn (CZK +2.8bn in July 2000). The improvement is primarily owing to a better tax collection: by end-July, tax revenues amounted to 56.5 % of the planned volume for this year. On the other hand, the social account still shows a considerable deficit (CZK 22.1bn). Growing subsidies to regional budgets had a negative impact on the budget balance this year compared to Jan-Jul 2000: their volume rose by CZK 13.5bn to CZK 30bn. Overall budget revenues for the first seven months of the year represent 55.5 % of the full-year plan, expenditures 55 %. Some extraordinary spending worsened the budget gap: coverage of damages caused to farmers by droughts consumed CZK 4.2bn and depositors in failed credit unions were helped with CZK 5.0bn.

- The first draft of the state budget for 2002 proposes the highest year-on-year funds expansion in absolute terms for the Labor Ministry (+ CZK 19bn), while in growth terms, the Transport Ministry should enjoy the largest acceleration (+21 %). On the other hand, the ministries of foreign affairs, environment, industry and trade, agriculture, and culture are proposed to get less than in 2001. The local development ministry should get only 62 % of this year's funds. Representatives of the Local Development Ministry and Agriculture Ministry's both told CTK that their ministries would ask for the raising of their planned budgets.

- Reuters reported that the Czech Finance Ministry considered a Eurobond issue between EUR 0.5bn and 1.0bn. The ministry could issue the bond as early as this year. Endorsement by Deputies would not be necessary, but the central bank would have to give green light to the plan. The cabinet was considering an Eurobond issue earlier this year but CNB disagreed and argued that the operation would further strengthen the crown, which was close to its all-time highs against the euro at that time.

- Cesky Telecom lost more than 13 % and hit a new five-year low on Wednesday after having reported a worse-than-expected 14 % drop in its first half net profit on Tuesday. But traders also said the blue chip was suffering from sector weakness and a controversial USD 1.48bn investment into a 49 % stake in mobile operator EuroTel. According to analysts, the price was above their fair value estimates but the deal was assessed as positive from the long-term perspective.

- Traders said the crown market was nervous about the Eurotel buy by Cesky Telecom as it is still not clear how the purchase will be financed and whether it will go through the market or not. Late on Wednesday the crown was almost flat from late Tuesday at 33.95/99 to the euro. The crown/dollar firmed to 38.62/64 from 38.81/83 late Tuesday.

- Increased activity on the bond market pushed up prices of bonds with long maturity, while issues with short maturity lost. The state 6.95/16 rose 50 basis points at 99.00/30, yielding 7.06/02 %. The state 6.75/05 fell five points to 100.60/90, yielding 6.54/44 %.

late August 1 bond yield late July 31
CZK/EUR33.95/99-33.96/00
CZK/USD38.62/64-38.81/83
State 6.75/05100.60/906.54/44100.65/95
State 6.95/1699.00/307.06/0298.50/80


(Martin Kupka)

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