Karel Šanda

SOCIETY: There are fewer and fewer of us
According to a report published by the Czech Bureau of Statistics (ČSÚ), in the first three months of 2002 the number of Czech residents experienced the biggest decrease since 1990. The number dropped by a record 10,400, which means that 10,259,282 people are currently residing here, the lowest figure since 1978. According to statisticians, the main reason for this is the tightening of the law on foreigners’ residency – in the first three months of this year 9,850 foreigners left the country, with only 3,198 moving here. Also, 3,800 more people died than were born here. Although 515 more births were recorded in the first three months than during the same period last year, statisticians say that this does not mean that the Czech Republic will overcome the critical birth rate of the last few years, which is lower than the EU average. According to the ČSÚ, this country is following demographic trends common throughout Europe.

ADVERTISING: The fate of unsolicited ads
On 1 June the amended law on the regulation of advertising took effect, and it should afford citizens better protection against unsolicited advertising leaflets. If a citizen marks his mail box with a request that no advertising materials be placed in it, or directly notifies a firm that he wants his address to be stricken from its database, his wishes must be obeyed. Otherwise, he can complain to the commercial licensing office, which should then commence administrative proceedings. According to Hana Šatopletová of the legislative department of the Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry, the amendment was adopted because of frequent complaints from citizens. Šatopletová says that in order for the administrative proceedings to take place, there must be evidence that the citizen did not want the advertising material. The amendment also relates to e-mail correspondence, although this problem is more complicated, as a large percentage of electronic communications come from abroad. Experts believe that the amendment should at least prevent the problem from becoming worse.

STOCK MARKET: The Czech stock exchange plunges
The volume of trades on the Prague Stock Exchange decreased last year by more than half, and last year’s profit was off CZK 11 million. This is definitely bad news for the Prague Stock Exchange. In addition, there was more bad news a few days ago – Česká spořitelna, whose shares were among the most liquid, left the exchange. Another candidate for leaving will probably be České radiokomunikace, and there is also talk about other companies. According to experts, the Prague Stock Exchange could be saved from this critical situation by merging with another market or by the entry of a strategic partner.
But as the stock exchange’s boss Pavel Hollman says, no negotiations to such an end are underway. However, negotiations are being conducted with Česká spořitelna’s owner, Erste Bank of Austria, which has expressed interest in placing its shares on the Czech market, and according to Vladimír Ezr, the deputy general secretary of the Prague Securities Exchange, these negotiations are proceeding successfully for now.

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