Final Word from Monday, January 13, 2003

Unemployment reached a record 9.8% in Dec., and Industry Minister Jiří Rusnok told the BBC he expects it to pass 10% in Jan. and remain high for all of 2003. Companies complain about heavy non-wage labor costs, but Zdeněk Škromach's labor ministry is targeting two groups for raising more social-security revenue. The ministry wants to increase the base from which the self-employed calculate their social tax, and it wants foreigners subject to bilateral social-security treaties to lose the exemption they've enjoyed under certain conditions. According to Deloitte & Touche, this could affect employees from Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and several other countries. Foreign investors and the self-employed are among the biggest creators of jobs; taxing them more can only add to unemployment.


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