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Czech Watch - 4 April 2001

04.04.2001 8:30

Finance Minister Pavel Mertlík confirmed that the Czech MoF and the central bank had no differences on the 2002 inflation target to be discussed by the cabinet on Monday. ČNB´s Vice-Governor Luděk Niedermayer explained last week that the room to maneuver in setting the target was actually small, given that the target should lie between this year's target of 2.0-4.0 % and the end-2005 target of 1.0-3.0 %. ČNB plans to present the target on April 12. Under a new law repeatedly criticized by the European Union, ČNB must agree its inflation targets with the cabinet. The targets are set for net inflation, which excludes the impact of tax changes and items with government-regulated prices. Mertlík also said that he would favor setting mid-term inflation targets in addition or replacing the one-year targets.

Finance Minister Mertlík disagreed with recent critical remarks of Prime Minister Zeman addressed to the National Property Fund (NPF). Mr. Zeman threatened with personal changes in the top management, unless NPF accelerates its work. Mr. Zeman named Czech Telecom and České radiokumunikace as examples of privatization delays. Minister Mertlík, who is also Chairman of the body appointing and sacking NPF´s top management, said that he did not consider any personal changes in the NPF´s Executive Committee.

Registry of corporate debtors prepared by the ČNB is scheduled to launch in 2001Q4. The actual take-off will depend on the approval date of a Bank Act amendment, allowing, inter alia, access of banks to data stored in the Registry. The Central Registry of Loans will serve exclusively to the Czech banks. The banks will be obliged to provide the Registry with up-to-date inputs concerning their corporate borrowers and indebted entrepreneurs. In exchange, for a small fee, the banks will get access to information concerning credits granted to a borrower by any of the Czech commercial banks. Clients will be given a chance to check their respective entries in the Registry. A database of individual debtors including data coming from five large Czech commercial banks has been prepared since more than a year. The database should be ready this October. The total volume of non-standard loans in the Czech Republic amounts to CZK 250bn (excl. Konsolidační banka).

The Czech crown was trading in a narrow range of 34.56-34.65 CZK/EUR throughout the day. Traders expect some firming after losses last week, fuelled by foreign direct investment inflows. The currency strengthened up to 38.84/87 against USD as EUR firmed vs. the U.S. currency.

Bonds rose again. The longest state 6.95/16 up 45 bps to 107.40/70, yield 6.17/14 %. State 6.75/05 up 25 points to 104.65/95, yield 5.38/30. Market sentiment is mixed, cautious optimism seems to prevail.

late April 3 bond yield late April 2
State 6.75/05104.65/955.38/30104.40/70
State 6.95/16107.40/706.17/14106.85/15

(Martin Kupka)

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