The AmCham Board of Directors discussed our second half of 2017 advocacy plan and the potential impact of the parliamentary elections on the economy at its final meeting of the 2016-2017 membership year.
“We view this as a critical juncture for the economy,” AmCham President Michal Nebeský summed up the discussion, “The global economic crisis interrupted some necessary debate and delayed some important policy decisions, because it disrupted the long-term trends of investment, job creation and wage growth. Now, we have snapped back very abruptly to high demand for the country’s most precious resource- skilled people- and what happens next- crisis or prosperity- will depend on how the next government addresses some complex and sensitive issues.”
The board approved sending a letter to leading parties identifying those issues. The letter, which will be available on our website in the coming days, urges parties to address
“Our aim should be to attain one of the highest quality of life in the EU,” Sanjiv Suri of Zátiší Catering said. “As the world around us changes at a pace never seen before, there are two critical elements to realizing our potential: the best local and imported international brains and skills, and systemic innovation. Given the acute shortage of workforce supply today, any populism interfering with these fundamentals can only be a barrier to our future.”
Suri’s comments reflected the main theme of the board’s discussion of the current economic environment: the lack of people to achieve the market’s potential. AmCham staff has spent the last few months meeting with visiting executives concerned that their operations in the Czech Republic cannot fulfill their contractual obligations because they lack the workforce. Some Prague businesses are short a hundred or more people.
“The current economic balance is under heavy stress,” reported Weston Stacey. “From what we have seen, something is going to have to shift in the market. We hope we can manage it by raising supply to meet demand, not lowering demand to fit supply. The latter increases the chance of an economic crisis.”
AmCham is concerned that parties might cater to the portion of the population which fear “the other” instead of explaining how much the country has benefited from re-entering the European and global community during parliamentary elections. If fear presides over opportunity during the election debate, the outcome could push the next government into a corner it cannot escape when it comes to economic policy that can bring rising and lasting prosperity.
“As it stands today, the main themes of the next election will be everyone else attempting to criminalize Andrej Babiš and call him a potential threat to democracy, and talking about how tough they will be against foreigners,“ predicted Weston Stacey. “Neither of those issues gives the economy any positive sense of direction, and you can easily argue that the second works against the economy, because the success of the economy has been and will be based on its integration into the international economy. What we need to be discussing is how research money could be used to create more jobs or how the public transit system could give more people better access to work, because we need to create more homegrown opportunities and give more people better access to those opportunities.”
AmCham’s second half advocacy brief can be found on www.czechcompete.cz. The board also decided to create a Brno Council to oversee its activities in the region and a Manufacturers Council to share trends and best practice, and to identify advocacy issues. For more on these matter, please contact Weston Stacey at firstname.lastname@example.org.