Jaromír Hanzal - ředitel Asociace.

Commentary to the Programme Statement of the Government of the Czech Republic


Commentary to the Programme Statement of the Government of the Czech Republic

Where does the Fialova government stand with the Babiš government in terms of digitalisation?

On 6 January 2022, the final version of the Programme Statement of the Government of the Czech Republic was approved, and on 13 January, the government of Petr Fiala was given confidence in the Chamber of Deputies. The Association for Applied Research in IT (AAVIT) focused on comparing the current Programme Statement with that of the previous government of Andrej Babiš, especially in the areas of digitisation, science and research.

In the area of digitalisation, a certain degree of continuity can be seen between the two programme documents. On the one hand, this can be perceived positively in the sense that the priorities remain constant regardless of the change in political representation. However, it is also indicative of the lack of long-term solutions to a number of issues, which have been present across the mandates of several governments. 

What about high-speed internet?

The main priority of Andrej Babiš’s government in the area of digitalisation was the development of a functional eGovernment, or the process initiation that should lead to this goal. The most important strategic document for facilitating the development of digitalisation in the Czech Republic was Digital Czechia. It also established the post of Government Commissioner for IT and Digitalisation, reporting to the Prime Minister himself. 

The Babiš government has committed itself to the completion of a high-speed internet network; it should be mentioned here that the meaning of the term “high-speed internet network” has been variable over time in view of technological progress. During the parliamentary term, the Citizen’s Portal was set up, which can be seen as a positive step. However, its effectiveness and practicability are often affected by low compatibility on the part of the relevant public administrations.

A business portal? It must be user-friendly

The government of Peter Fiala is building on the digitisation of the public administration. It aims to develop a mobile application for the existing Citizen’s Portal and to establish a new Entrepreneur’s Portal. Its goal is to facilitate communication with the public administration as well as communication between entrepreneurs. 

AAVIT welcomes this step, but it is necessary to put maximum emphasis on user-friendliness, so that it is not another tool whose potential in terms of real use is not fully fulfilled. This also applies to the other programme objectives of the Fiala government in the area of digital transformation of public administration. 

Why is the digitalisation of healthcare missing from the government’s declaration?

Compared to the previous government, the current one intends to focus much more intensively on the issue of cybersecurity. AAVIT considers this area to be both economically promising and necessary – both because of the continued digitisation of an increasingly wide range of services and activities, and because of the turbulent international situation and the use of IT tools to achieve political and economic goals. 

On the other hand, the fact that, as in the previous government’s programme statement, there is no explicit mention of digitisation of the healthcare sector, where the association sees a long-term deficit, can be seen as a negative. The fragmentation of the topic of digital transformation of the business sector into several areas of the programme statement is also not ideal. It would be preferable if the entire focus was on the area of digitalisation.

Babiš forgot about science, Fiala wants to address it

There was no mention of science and research in relation to the IT sector in the Babiš government’s programme statement. In fact, the whole area was described very briefly, so it is not a big surprise. The current government’s programme statement already focuses on this area much more intensively. 

“From the perspective of the IT sector and the issue of applied research, we strongly welcome the mention of technology transfer, which opens up space for cooperation between research organisations and the private sector. However, on behalf of AAVIT, we would definitely suggest modifying the passage on science-industry cooperation to science-commercial sector cooperation. In addition to industry, it naturally includes the service sector, which is quite crucial from the IT perspective,” explains Jaromír Hanzal, President of AAVIT.

The Czech IT market needs to be more open to foreigners

Economic statistics clearly show that the IT sector offers the highest potential for bringing the Czech Republic closer to the world’s most advanced economies. Compared to other sectors, it is less demanding in terms of material infrastructure and, on the contrary, it is extremely dependent on a sufficient number of skilled workers. This is also related to the issue of recruiting skilled workers for the Czech labour market.

“AAVIT appreciates that the latest programme statement mentions, in addition to providing suitable conditions for researchers, opening the labour market to candidates from third countries and ensuring the digitisation and significant acceleration of the process of applying for work permits. The IT sector in the Czech Republic has long been struggling with an insufficient number of skilled workers, which significantly slows down the further development of the Czech economy,” Hanzal concludes.