Final Word from Monday, August 4, 2003

Václav Fischer wasn't able to match the success in the Czech travel industry that he enjoyed earlier in Germany, in part, no doubt, because different rules apply here. Despite sharp objections from the EU, Parliament has repeatedly prolonged the life of duty-free stores in the CR. Fischer's biggest competitor, Čedok, is owned by Jiří Šimáně, who also operates duty-free shops at border-crossing points. Two of the three creditors that are taking action against Fischer have also been profiting from tax-free sales (ČSA and ČSL). Money that otherwise would have been collected by the state from the sale of alcohol and cigarettes has been used to drive Fischer out of business (unless Atlantik FT can save him). Šimáně will have to close his duty-free operations early next year. With Fischer gone or weakened, he'll be able to offset this revenue loss by raising prices at Čedok.


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