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Czech Watch - 16 February 2001

16.2.2001 8:50

The Industry and Trade Ministry has worked out a strategy for support to economic growth which will this and next year cost CZK 264.7 billion. The investment should help boost gross domestic product, raise employment, and help improve companies' performance and people's purchasing power. The plan has been submitted for comment to other ministries. Support to 13 sensitive regions across the country, and support to exports and infrastructure should all help accelerate economic growth. For this year, the strategy counts on an investment of CZK 99.7 billion and next year on the remaining CZK 165 billion. Part of the strategy are two programmes aimed at stabilising and reviving heavily indebted companies on which Kc20bn is to be spent this year and the same amount next year. The ministry expects that the programme could help boost economic growth to 4 percent this year and to 5-6 percent next year. The plan is to be discussed on Friday by the tripartite (government-employers-unions) committee.

Premier and Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Miloš Zeman said that he knew nothing about any businessman Karl-Heinz Hauptmann who according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes lent the party about CZK 20 million in 1997- 98. In its today's issue the daily wrote that the CSSD had accepted the loan from Hauptmann, a businessman from transnational Europa Capital Management (ECM), at variance with a tax law because its account had been frozen at that time due to its failure to pay income tax.

The Czech koruna stayed in a narrow range of 34.40-50 to the euro in an illiquid market on Thursday but firmed slightly in late trading as the euro lost ground against the dollar. Late on Thursday the koruna was up at 34.44/47 to the euro from the morning's and late Wednesday's 34.46/48. Koruna/dollar was at 38.03 from the morning's 37.61/64 and from 37.55/58 late Wednesday.

The state 6.40/10 bond was down 20 basis points from late Wednesday at 98.85/15, yielding 6.56/52 percent. The state 6.75/05 was flat at 102.85/15, yielding 5.93/84 percent. The Finance Ministry said on Monday the central bank will auction CZK 5 billion koruna tranche of the 6.75/05 state bond on Friday, with yield to be determined through a multiple price American-style auction. On Thursday afternoon a Czech central bank Dutch auction of CZK 8.0 billion tranche of 26-week treasury bills yielded 5.28 percent. The tranche was oversubscribed, with bids totalling CZK 11.59 billion.

(David Marek)

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