In order for the media not to take a breather from Prime Minister Fiala, his communication team expanded during his stay in Africa (connected with an extraordinary faux pas in the form of the rejection of the Czech government delegation by Nigeria), on the X network a video about a “test” food purchase in Waldsassen in Bavaria and, for comparison, in nearby Cheb. To his surprise, the Czech Prime Minister discovered that the prices of the basic foods he selected in Germany are lower than in the Czech Republic and are even more advantageous because their weight is greater in Germany. And what was the Prime Minister’s conclusion: he wants to contact the manufacturer with the results. “And I will want to hear an explanation from them,” said Father Fiala. On November 7, the most widely read German daily, the tabloid Bild Zeitung, crowned the awkwardness of the entire report, saying that even the Czech prime minister buys cheaper in Germany because it is expensive in the Czech Republic due to high inflation. This is called government promotion of the Czech Republic.
Let us recall that Petr Fiala is the first professor of political science to be appointed in the history of the Czech Republic. So we should ask him some pressing questions: What on earth did he want to achieve politically with this reportage? That he cares for the welfare of the people of his country and perceives their concerns dearly? Does he even shop himself sometimes? That he perceives the latest analyzes and reports that half of Czech households barely make ends meet at the end of the month? That one million Czechs already live below the poverty line and another two million are approaching it? That household sales and consumption have been falling for 17 months in a row? That the Czech Republic, of all the OECD countries, was the most affected by the reduction of average incomes due to inflation? That the Czech Republic is the only country that did not return to economic growth after the covid pandemic?
The prime minister’s shopping report on the X network and its tone testify both to the complete political amateurism of Petr Fiala himself and to the dilettantism of his communications team. The media is full of similar reports comparing the prices of food, but also of other consumer goods more favorable for the Czechs in (so far) poorer Poland and even in rich Germany and Austria. In particular, tens of thousands of Czechs are constantly shopping in the mentioned countries for billions of crowns, fulfilling the sales of foreign companies and paying taxes at the expense of the Czech Republic. But voting with your feet is always the most honest. After all, the prime minister’s analytical team would undoubtedly get a good picture of shopping prices in the mentioned countries from the internet presentations of the relevant supermarkets and would not have to drive the busy prime minister, who has one more pressing agenda after another at home, to shop in Bavaria. Or that the communication team around Petr Fiala would like to copy from the marketing kitchen the head of the opposition ANO Andrej Babiš and his populist show Cahu, lidi? There is nothing worse for a politician than to become embarrassing and ridiculous.
Ever since the onset of devastating inflation in the Czech Republic, which has officially devalued the wages, salaries, savings and pensions of Czechs by 33% since the last quarter of 2019 (analyst Lenka Zlámalová writes about 37.5%), there has been a fiery debate about who is to blame for the sharp growth food prices. Their domestic producers are constantly fighting with the processors and of course with the sellers, throwing the blame on each other. However, the Czech Republic is only about half self-sufficient in food, so there is really a store at the end of this chain. And those in the Czech Republic are dominated by – as we all know – supermarkets in the hands of German owners.
In the first place in the Czech Republic is the largest retail chain in Europe, the German Schwarze-Gruppe. It also operates hundreds of Kaufland and Lidl hypermarkets and supermarkets in the Czech Republic, which had a turnover of around 64 billion crowns in 2021. They are strongly complemented by another German REWE group, which operates Penny supermarkets with a turnover of 41 billion crowns in 2021. The REWE group also includes the Austrian chain Billa, which had a turnover of over 31 billion in the Czech Republic in 2021. These turnovers, taking into account inflation and rising prices, undoubtedly increased dramatically last year and this year, and with them the profits of the owners.
What is the culprit of high food prices in the Czech Republic? It should be clear to a person in the position of leader of the right-wing ODS: insufficient competition, the devastating influence of business and food oligopolies and dysfunctional state administration and control bodies, especially in the form of the Competition Authority and the Czech Trade Inspection. How else can you justify the fact that the same product in a supermarket of the same name, not far from each other, but on the opposite side of the border between the Czech Republic and Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, and the Czech Republic and Poland, is more expensive in the Czech Republic? Economies of scale with respect to market size and turnover are just an excuse. Just as the former fight for the same quality of food and other products in the EU countries, which the member of the European Commission Věra Jourová wrote on the banner of her work, ended in vain due to the successful lobbying pressure of European concerns. However, the government cadres do not dare to step on them, probably the only culprit will be the holding company Agrofert, although we do not want to stand up for the cheap poultry separates from this workshop.
But it will get worse. A great debate has now flared up over the Energy Regulatory Office’s (ERÚ) price list proposals regarding the return of support for renewable sources and the increase in distribution costs due to the growing number of solar power plants in the invoices of households and businesses. The members of the government coalition talk about the increase in electricity prices from next year “in the order of units of percent”, the opposition, supported by an increasing number of energy experts, pillages increases between 70% for households and 200% for businesses.
If the decline in credit activity and household consumption, i.e. the economic recession, managed to reduce inflation to a single-digit level this year, from January 2024, the sharp increase in electricity and possibly gas prices in the order of billions would have to be reflected by Czech companies again in their products. Or go bankrupt and send people to work. Because today the standard price of electricity and gas is three times higher (as a result of the accelerated decarbonisation policy of the EU, including the Czech Republic, associated with the switching off of emitting but stable energy sources) compared to the time before covid was, is and will be the main driver of inflation. Not by chance correlates the growth of energy prices in the last three years with the growth of inflation. If we want to continue to feed the tiger of inflation in this uncontrolled energy transformation, it will eventually eat us all.
If (if) the goal of Petr Fiala’s control purchase was to start the process of the Czech Republic’s request to join in the form of the 17th federal state of Germany, then the author of this report would be able to understand. Even Czechs in the arms of German welfare would have a guaranteed minimum wage of 12 euros per hour in Germany today, i.e. according to today’s exchange rate, a monthly income of over CZK 47,000 gross. The average gross wage in the entire Czech working population was 43,193 crowns in the 2nd quarter of this year. With that, we would also be able to handle the German price of energy, which is only slightly higher than the Czech one. After all, in some of its documents, the far-right Alternative for Germany, which is rising in popularity, also raised the question of returning the Czech Sudetenland to German sovereignty. Taking into account the fact that the Germans want to have 350 GW in solar and wind power in 6 years, and even 700 GW in 2035 against the current 144 GW, they will need twice as much electricity for the population of 83 million people in Germany with an average number of people per 1 km² than in the Czech Republic where to live Because their current living space will largely be occupied by tens of thousands of giant wind farms and hundreds of millions of solar panels.
Warning: If this author’s last paragraph scares someone, it is only sarcasm, irony, exaggeration. But with the use of real data.