Czech government announces record Q1 economic growth figures

The Czech government announced record first-quarter economic growth figures this week suggesting that the economy is growing faster than ever before. Jiri Havel, deputy prime minister for the economy, said the economy grew at a rate of 8.2 percent in the first three months of this year - driven mainly by big foreign investors such as carmakers. Jan Sykora is head of the investment bank Wood and Co.

Jan Sykora
"I think the economy is doing incredibly well, I would say despite of our government. To me that's the most positive thing - that the economy is really doing incredibly well, given the type of government we have."

So you think it's more to do with the economic cycle than the policies of the Social Democrat-led government.

"I think the Social Democrats' policies were holding growth in this economy, so I think if we had a more pragmatic, pro-business government, growth would be even faster and more sustainable."

But surely the Social Democrats would claim - no, look, it's our investment policies that have attracted so many foreign businesses to this country over the last eight years we've been in government.

"You can look at it both ways. (a) Czechinvest has done a good job attracting these FDIs and strategic investors that are basically now driving the economy. That's positive. But if you turn it around, had the Social Democrats not wasted on the welfare state, and had they launched tax reform, social and healthcare reform, pension reform, then even more money could have been invested not just into investment incentives but into infrastructure, education - things to help this country stay competitive even after the newly-installed capacities are out of date."

You're an economic analyst, not a political analyst, but these figures - coming as they do just a few weeks before the elections - the Social Democrats couldn't have hoped for better news could they?

"Well I think it's up to the intelligence of the electorate. Again, I would dare to say that this country could be going even faster had we had a pro-business government, which cannot be said about this government. Look at the pollution of really bad laws which are polluting the business and economic and political environment. I dare say that if we'd had a good, technocratic, Singaporean-type of government, this country could have been growing at 10 percent for the last five years and could easily be growing at that sort of rate for years to come."