REAL ESTATE: Builders enjoying housing
Written by: Anita Lišková
New housing is increasingly affordable for hopeful home-owners.
Last year alone, construction was commenced for 36,500 apartments,
almost 9% more than in 2002, as well as the highest figure since
1990. Housing construction is supported by affordable mortgages
and loans from building savings institutions, reaching nearly CZK
3 billion last year. Anticipated increases in assets, associated
with the Czech Republic's EU accession, is also a factor in the
great interest in housing. Analysts say that demand for new housing
should increase this year as well, with prices for new apartments
rising further due to the higher VAT rate and stricter technical
parameters following EU accession.
to allocate money from EU funds
As of 1 May, the date of the Czech Republic's EU accession, state
organizations and firms will be able to draw money from structural
and cohesion funds, which are intended to level the economic
differences between regions, as well as for environmental and
transportation projects. During 2004-2006 the Czech Republic
will be eligible to receive over EUR 2 billion total. At the
ministerial and regional levels, bodies should be created to
provide all the necessary information to applicants for money
from European funds. "The ministry for local development
is preparing the brochure on how to apply for funding and what
is necessary to attach to the requirement," says ministry
spokesperson Petr Dimun.
COMMERCE. Fear of reforms
Since the beginning of this year, Czech consumers have radically
changed their buying habits. Stores are reporting a year-on-year
decline in revenues of 1.4%, with small entrepreneurs reporting
the sharpest drops. According to the Czech Bureau of Statistics,
the last decrease in revenues occurred during the floods of 2002.
Motor vehicle sales recorded the sharpest drop, nearly 13%, with
sales of new cars in January down 12% year-on-year, According to
the Union of Automobile Importers, this is the worst result in
the last five years. Consumers are cutting their expenditures mainly
due to government reforms and high unemployment, mainly buying
fewer luxury goods.