Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of the AmCham Board of Directors, I would like to welcome all of you here in the beautiful Zofin Palace. We are happy to see so many of our members and their guests here. Thank you for joining us tonight.
My wife told me on the way here: be short and do not be provocative. She knows that I usually struggle with both, but I will try.
The Czechoslovak president said in his speech to the nation on the 1 January 1990: I will not lie to you, dear fellow-citizens, like my predecessors – this country is not flourishing. I do not know what the Czech president will say on the 1 January 2013. What I can say is that this country has been flourishing over last 22 years and we have achieved the level of freedom, democracy and prosperity we could not imagine 22 years ago. In spite of it, we experience disappointment and cynicism of people, businesses and even some politicians. Most regional governments have recently been formed by a coalition with a political party in whose official program we can read that the Czech Republic should leave NATO and that collective ownership has to play a key role in the economy.
Our economy performs significantly below its potential, which results in an increasing frustration of many people and many businesses. We can see that all neighboring countries grow faster. The year when GDP per capita in Slovakia will be higher than in the CR is not far away- something beyond the imagination of Slovaks when they celebrated their new state 20 years ago.
When we discussed the situation in the AmCham Board, we concluded that AmCham has to expand its scope of activities. We have been contributing to positive changes in the economic environment and legislation from the very beginning. We are proud of what we have achieved in the past, most recently with our Platform for Transparent Public Procurement.
What we have to address today is trust and confidence. Trust is the essential ingredient of any well-functioning economy and of any well-functioning government. It is the lack of trust that has led to today´s cynicism and frustration. To restore trust is a long-term goal because it has a lot to do with the quality of democracy and an active participation of people. We therefore strongly believe that improvement in such areas like the financing of political parties and the quality of public administration is important and can be achieved relatively quickly if there is enough political will. Therefore, we raised this issue in our recent meetings with politicians and we will do it also in our interviews with presidential candidates.
Fortunately, we can see many positive activities. I meet, and I am sure you as well, more and more people- representatives of NGO´s and business leaders- who are prepared to contribute their time, and sometimes also money, to positive changes. AmCham will actively communicate with many of them. You, our members, tell us that we in the business community cannot wait, but must insist that change can and will occur, that things can be better. We, as business leaders, have a responsibility to lead, to be agents of positive changes.
I hope that you, our members, will continue supporting us. I can promise we will do our best to contribute to the changes which will move the economic development of this country closer to its potential.
Thank you again for joining us. Since we are almost at the end of 2012 I would like to wish you a happy and successful year 2013, that you perform on your potential in your business and personal life and from time to time even better.
I wish all of us a great enjoyable evening.
Chairman and CEO KPMG CEE
To see AmCham´s 2012-13 Policy Priorities Briefing that was prepared for Prime Minister Petr Nečas, please follow the link: http://www.amcham.cz/legal-reform/news/detail/202/