CZECH REPUBLIC - Czech pension funds saw their profits rise by 38 million crowns to 1.97 billion crowns in January - September 2004, according to data from the Association of Pension Funds (APF).

Compared to the end of June 2004, profits of Czech pension funds were up by 720 million crowns.

Analysts say that profits were helped by stable yields of long-term domestic bonds in the third quarter.

This year’s yields are, however, not likely to exceed inflation rate, and are to reach some three percent, according to Penzijni fond Ceske pojistovny, one of the country’s biggest pension funds. Pension fund yields last year stood at 3.2% on average, the highest in history in real terms.

Czech pension funds registered 2.86 million clients as of the end of September 2004, up from 2.74 million in December 2003. By the end of September 2004, clients with state contributions had 89 billion crown in pension funds, an increase of 16% since the start of the year, according to the APF.

A total of 28% of inhabitants of the country's population of 10.2 million has a private insurance.

There are 11 pension funds active on the Czech market after a wave of mergers, which has reduced their number from the original 44. Private pension funds entered the market in 1994.

The Czech government would like to launch a reform of the current pension system by mid-2006 when its term expires.