In Business News this Friday: City pays 2.7 billion owed over Blanka Tunnel; bank customers’ hopes further dashed by Supreme Court; passenger train operator slashes price on Prague-Žilina route;; construction firms still feeling brunt of 2008 financial crisis; annoying tourist gets in the face of friendly Slovak campers.
A week after it was ordered to do so, Prague paid off debts in the total of 2.7 billion crowns to construction firm Metrostav for work on the soon-to-be-complete Blanka Tunnel. The news that the money was sent was confirmed by a city official on Friday. Both the city and the firm have agreed they do not want the massive project to be delayed further. Construction employees will resume work within three days of the sum going through. The Blanka Tunnel complex – estimated to cost some 36 billion crowns, was originally due to open in May; the opening date has been postponed to September.
A further nail has been driven into Czech bank customers' hopes of reclaiming high account maintenance charges. The Supreme Court - in a judgement made public Thursday - said that it is not possible or desirable to calculate all the elements making up such charges and it was unreasonable for bank clients to seek rebates on past charges. The latest decision largely follows the lines of a decision handed out just over a week ago by the country's Constitutional Court over one repayment claim with thousands of others waiting in the wings.
Private passenger train operator Regiojet has said it doesn’t want to kick off a price war with competitors while slashing prices on the Prague Žilina line, reports news website iDnes. The price for the trip was unexpectedly cut to 243 crowns, compared to the 380 crowns it cost among existing competitors. The undercutting of the market is reportedly in part strategy to get noticed on a saturated market. Regiojet has also begun operating on Slovakia’s Bratislava-Košice line. The company said it did not want a repeat of the so-called Ostrava scenario, where three operators have offered deals between Prague and the eastern city of Ostrava – but are all losing money.
Czech construction lost 443 billion crowns during the global financial crisis and 50,000 people in the sector were fired since 2008, it was revealed this week. Miloslav Mašek, the head of the Building Entrepreneurs Association, confirmed that the number of large building companies declined by 25 percent and that the situation for construction firms was unlikely to change this year with the situation maybe only stabilising by 2016. Sales totalled a record 547.5 billion in 2008, while last year the figure was 150 billion crowns lower. Statistical data show that 767 firms with 50 or more staff were active in the sector in 2008, employing 110,000 people, while last year the sector registered 578 companies with 84,000 employees. According to Mr Mašek, firms caught off guard by the crisis as well as those that had performed well but suffered from a lack of public contracts had since gone bankrupt.
A commercial for consolidated personal loans running in Slovakia uses a Czech tourist, complete with a beard, a bit of a tum and socks & sandals, for comic relief, showing him as a prime borrower but poor lender. In the ad, the tourist annoyingly borrows from a nice Slovak family, who are camping, an axe, lamp, pan and onions but offers to lend only an opened tin of pate. The new campaign, for Slovenská sporitelňa, hopes to attract domestic clients to consolidate past loans in one with lower payment rates. The less-than-flattering depiction of the Czech tourist is hardly a new stereotype: some Croatians in the 1990s infamously used to complain about Czech visitors being too self-reliant when visiting ie. loading up on food from home during the summer holidays, whether with Czech řízky (wiener schnitzel), or the aforementioned pate. The only thing missing from the picture is beer.