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Czech Watch – 7 June 2001

7.6.2001 10:25

- KDU-CSL leader Cyril Svoboda said that a proposed change to the Czech constitution allowing for direct presidential elections would not mean that President Vaclav Havel could candidate for a third term. The constitution allows Czech presidents to serve only two five-year consecutive terms, and Havel’s second term ends in February 2003. The clause saying that nobody can serve two consecutive terms as president would stay also in the amended constitution, Svoboda said.

- The Czech government approved a bill calling for tougher rules for package recycling. The bill on packaging asks manufacturers of packaging materials to secure that until 2005 the share of their products that are recycled raises from 25 % to 45 %. Three other ministries are to be involved in fine-tuning of the bill so that it meets EU directives. Because of the directives related to packaging, the Czech Republic had to ask the EU for a transition period until 2005. If it is passed and signed into law, the bill on packaging would become valid as of January 1, 2002. After the law comes into force, violators of it could be fined up to CZK 50m.

- The first suspected case of mad cow disease (BSE) has been found in the Czech Republic in a meat processing company in South Moravia. Further tests will be performed in order to either confirm or refute the suspicion. If the result is positive, the Czech Republic will ask a German reference laboratory to check it. The State Veterinary Administration (SVS) for the time being banned transport of animals from the farm that delivered the suspicious meat and is preparing for further measures to be taken. If the BSE is proven, the SVS will start checking all slaughtered animals older than 30 months, or a total of 170t of them. The Czech Republic has so far examined more than 10t of cattle brains with a negative result.

- The cabinet approved the Finance Ministry’s proposal to postpone the planned end of the tender for the sale of 51 % state stake in Cesky Telecom from June 30 to the end of October. The launch of the tender has been delayed by the talks between the National Property Fund, a holder of 51 % of Telecom's shares, and TelSource, which has a 33.5 %, on a joint sale of their stakes. The contract between the National Property Fund and the TelSource consortium on their joint sale of Cesky Telecom shares (FPF sales 34 % and the TelSource 17 %) will include an assessment of the fulfillment of the TelSource´s promises made five years ago upon entry of Telecom.

- The cabinet approved a bill on asset declaration concerning individuals with assets worth CZK 10m and more. The Chamber of Deputies had already refused a similar the bill in the first reading some time ago. Assets concerned by the bill are real estate, cars, jewels and paintings. Pictures painted by the owner, cash up to CZK 200t and household appliances and furnishing need not be included in the declaration. If the bill passes through the parliament, the first declaration would be due on June 30, 2002, and would refer to assets owned on January 1, 2002. The following declaration would have to be submitted in 2004 and then every three years. According to the bill, either income tax or gift tax should be imposed on income that a taxpayer had failed to declare.

- The Czech crown was following movements on the euro/dollar market on Wednesday and awaits May inflation data to be published on Friday. Late on Wednesday the crown was at 34.04/07 to the euro from 34.03/06 late Tuesday. The crown/dollar fell to 40.27/30 from 40.03/05 late Tuesday.

- The state 6.95/16 bond rose 2bps to 101.40/70, yielding 6.80/77 %. The state 6.75/05 fell five points to 103.40/70, yielding 5.69/60 %. Bond dealers said that May inflation, expected to be around 0.4-0.5 % month-on-month, or 5 % year-on-year, could have an effect on both short and long term interest rates prices.

Late on June 6 bond yield Late on June 5
State 6.75/05103.40/705.69/60103.45/75
State 6.95/16101.30/606.80/77101.28/58

(Martin Kupka)

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