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Czech Watch – 18 July 2001

18.7.2001 8:50

- Finance Minister Rusnok told CTK that transitional periods required by the Czech Republic for certain items during the EU-accession talks should help keep social and political atmosphere calm and forestall unnecessary price leaps. The Czech Republic requires, for instance, a lower value added tax on heat power supplies till Dec 31, 2007. A transitional period for construction works should last until Dec 31, 2010. Another transitional period (until Dec 31, 2007) is required for excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco products. And the country also requires an exception regarding the production of brandy. The actual length of the transitional periods will be subject to further discussions.

- Pilots of Czech Airlines (CSA) declared a strike alert in support of their financial demands. Pilots seek recalculation of their bonuses for overtime, night work and for being on a stand-by. The amount of miscalculated bonuses cannot be exactly estimated. Trade unions said that the strike alert would end as soon as a bilaterally acceptable compromise is reached. The CSA management said that the strike alert would not negatively impact CSA operation and passengers.

- The German government announced to EU bodies that it did not actually demand closure of the Czech nuclear power plant Temelin, but only had many technical reservations about it and wanted to discuss them with the Czech government. An unnamed source in the EU called this statement "a mitigating clarification" which "distances itself" from a document which was unofficially spread on Monday. Previous information stated Germany reportedly demanded that Temelin be closed down. According to CTK's sources in Brussels, there are four main points raised by Germany: recognition of the Czech right to use nuclear energy to generate electricity; declaration that the Temelin problem must not affect Czech EU accession; clearly voiced apprehension of Temelin's concrete shortcomings; the request for the shortcomings to be bilaterally discussed.

- The Finance and Industry and Trade Ministries are calling on the cabinet to change the form of the tender for the strategic partner of Unipetrol. According to the proposal, the winner should be picked by the government and not by the National Property Fund (FNM). Another change proposed by the ministries is postponement of the calling date of the tender from July 31 to Aug 15 in order to get enough time for working out all details. The last change formal: the government's resolution should state that the British investment bank HSBC, London, not its Prague-based branch, is the government adviser for the privatization of a 63 % state-held share in Unipetrol.

- The Czech crown held steady on a lack of local news amidst he summer holiday. Late on Tuesday the crown/euro was at 33.80/83, almost flat against late Monday’s 33.82/85. The crown/dollar was also practically unchanged at 39.55/57, compared to 39.56/58 late on Monday. Dealers see a short-term range of 33.70-90 to the euro.

- Bonds partly recovered from Monday's falls, boosted by CEZ 8.75 buybacks and a correction in state bonds. The CEZ 8.75/04 rose 55bps from Monday's close to 103.75/05, yielding 7.24/13 %. The longest state 6.95/16 bond rose 20bps to 97.70/00, yielding 7.20/17 %. The state 6.75/05 rose 15 basis points to 100.70/00, yielding 6.51/41 %.

late July 17 bond yield late July 16
State 6.75/05100.70/006.51/41100.55/85
State 6.95/1697.70/007.20/1797.50/80

(Martin Kupka)

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