In this week’s Business News: the transport minister’s resignation is met with relief by some members of the country’s construction sector, fuel prices reach an all-time high, the Czech Republic contributes over 65 million Czech crowns to an international fund for a protective shield around one of Chernobyl’s reactors, the labor ministry plans to introduce a new electronic payment system for pensions and for the first time, a woman takes first prize at the Czech Manager of the Year Awards.
Following the resignation of Transport Minister Vít Bárta, a change of strategy for transport infrastructure is being discussed. The government is postponing the approval of Mr. Bárta’s so-called “superconcept,” a transport and infrastructure plan for the next 15 years which is looking to cut back on new construction projects. Mr. Bárta’s impending departure has come as a relief to some members of the building sector: Václav Matyáš of the SPS builders’ union said he has nothing positive to say about someone who practically declared war on construction firms and refused to communicate with them. Meanwhile, the deputy chair of the Social Democrats, Michal Hašek, claims that the current government crisis is merely an excuse for the Civic Democrats’ building lobby to reclaim the Transport Ministry.
Fuel prices have hit a historic high of 35.01 Czech crowns per liter, with an increase of nearly half a crown this week alone. Analysts predict that the price of petrol will continue rising over the next few days. The director of the Czech association of fuel stations, however, expects that the inflated rates will remain at the current level, citing the unrest in Libya and other countries in the Middle East as the main factor behind the price-hikes. Across the country, residents of south Moravia have to pay the most for petrol: 35.6 Czech crowns per liter. In the capital, petrol retails for an average of 35.48 Czech crowns per liter.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved a single contribution of 2.6 million euro, nearly 65 million Czech crowns, towards an international fund that will finance the construction of a new protective shield around one of Chernobyl’s now defunct reactors, where nuclear waste is being stored. The Czech Republic will make an official announcement of its contribution next week, at a conference of donators to the fund. To date, 29 individual countries as well as the European Union have contributed a total of 864 million euro; hundreds of millions more are necessary to pay for the new shield. The current one has become porous and needs to be replaced to prevent radiation from leaking into the environment.
The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was considered the worst nuclear power plant accident until this week, when experts rated the recent accident at the Japanese nuclear reactor in Fukushima at level 7 of the International Nuclear Event Scale, the same rating that was given to the accident at Chernobyl.
Pensions are to be paid out via a new system of electronic payment cards starting in 2013, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Friday. The project is part of a larger initiative by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to streamline social services. Next year, some welfare payments will be distributed via the new card system. Currently, welfare recipients can opt to have their monthly welfare wired to their account or choose to receive a payment slip, with which they can pick it up at the post office. Both methods will remain in place for now, though the ministry is pushing the electronic payment cards, which in the future could be interconnected with health services cards.
For the first time since its inception, the Czech Manager of the Year award went to a woman. The 18th Manager of the Year title was awarded to Senta Čermáková of Hewlett-Packard. The jury said that Mrs. Čermáková was chosen because she was able to establish herself in a managing role in an international team, setting a great example for Czech professionals. A total of 72 finalists competed for the title. The jury awarded Petr Ryska of the OTK printing company the award in the “young manager talent” category. Former health minister Dana Jurásková came in first in the category “best manager in the health and social services sector,” while the head of Czech Railways, Petr Žaluda won the prize in the logistics and transport category.