Czechs will foot a bill of CZK 90 to 100 billion (USD 2.4-2.7 billion) for losses at the country's third largest bank, IPB, which crumbled last year under bad loans and a run on deposits, a state bank, Konsolidacni Banka, cleaning up the case said on Thursday. The figure confirms the cleanup of bank IPB's balance sheet, agreed under a deal which saved depositors and shielded the country's banking system from potential knock-on trouble, will hit the top end of previous estimates of CZK 50-100 billion. Ladislav Reznicek, the head of the state factoring bank Konsolidacni Banka, told that the bank expects to lose the CZK 90 to 100 billion on assets it pledged to take off IPB's balance sheet at their book value. Talks continue on the amount of actual assets Konsolidacni will take on but they are expected to hit 180 billion korunas overall, of which the bank hopes to recover about half or slightly less.
Countries of the Visegrad Four grouping - Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary - should seek to enter the European Union together, Czech President Vaclav Havel and his Slovak counterpart Rudolf Schuster told journalists after their meeting at Prague Castle yesterday. However, if some of these countries was not invited to enter the EU it would be nonsensical to create a special Schengen border for a transition period, they stressed.
Chamber of Deputies and Civic Democratic Party (ODS) chairman Vaclav Klaus criticised after a meeting with Slovak President Rudolf Schuster today European Commission's annual reports assessing progress in the preparation of European Union candidate countries for EU membership. He told journalists that the report very often contained imperfect and imprecise formulations on the situation in EU candidate countries. In addition he said that he resented "when someone assumes the role of a teacher and someone the role of a pupil."
The Finance Ministry said the central state budget surplus to end-February dropped to CZK 3.25 billion from January's CZK 18.75 billion.
The Czech koruna held in a narrow range against the euro on Thursday and is expected to remain steady again on Friday. Late on Thursday the koruna was steady at 34.68/70 to the euro from 34.69/71 in the morning but down from 34.62/70 late Wednesday. The koruna/dollar was up at 37.27/30 from the morning's 37.36/40 and 37.71/74 late Wednesday.
The longest state 6.95/16 bond rose five points from late Wednesday to 106.05/35, yielding 6.31/28 percent. The state 6.75/05 fell 30 points to 103.85/15, yielding 5.63/55 percent.