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Czech Watch - 25 June 2001

25.6.2001 8:35

All eyes are on today's publication of the Q1/2001 GDP figure. There is growing uncertainty, as the Statistical Office has changed the methodology once more and hinted that the figure might be better then expected. We keep our forecast of the 3.3% growth, y-to-y. Check our web page for the data.

The weekend brought a new chairwoman Hana Marvanova who won the Union of Freedom election (the first woman in charge of a relevant political party, ever!). She appears to offer less ideological, down-to-earth and no-nonsense alternative of the Czech center-right politics. All partners in the Quad-coalition (which the Union is a part) are pleased by the election. Thus, one year before the parliamentary election, three of four biggest parties have changed their leadership.

The remaining hero, Vaclav Klaus of ODS, remains to make marks. Yesterday he clashed in an apocalyptic discussion with the CSSD chairman (and the labor minister) Vladimir Spidla. They spent a long time blaming each other for mounting fiscal crisis (irony being that they were both partly right), but when asked what to do in the future, both suddenly become much more silent… .

Privatization remains in shambles. The Freedom Union called on the Cabinet to stop "non-transparent" privatization of the power sector. The Prime Minister boldly stated that the Cabinet is not in a hurry and might delay the privatization if the price is not right. Indeed, finance ministry wants to do exactly this in the case of Ceske radiokomunikace.

The euro fell marginally again, so the koruna is below the 34 level again at 33.965 CZK/EUR and at 39.82 CZK/USD. For actual prices and bond quotations, consult our web page.

(Ondrej Schneider)

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