Andrej Babiš and his ministers are promising to introduce a so-called “national investment plan”, which will summarize countrywide infrastructure improvement needs as well as the schedule when they will be carried out. While detailed numbers are yet to be released, the prime minister has said that the 17 000 projects envisaged in the plan are to cost CZK 3.45 trillion.
Last Monday the prime minister finally offered a reason as to why his cabinet has been touring the Czech regions and talking about grand investment plans for nearly a year.
He said an 11-year national investment plan, encompassing 17 000 projects and worth a total of CZK 3.45 trillion, was in its final stages of development.
The sum, which includes infrastructure projects from all sectors, is staggeringly high, making up roughly twice the country’s annual budgetary earnings.
However, Komerční banka fiscal economist Jakub Matějů says the amount is less shocking when put into long term perspective.
“The sum itself sounds large but we need to realise that it stretches out over the following 11 years, until 2030. If we look at the average public investment numbers in the past years and the economic growth forecast of the period up until 2030, we can arrive at fairly similar numbers.”
This week the various ministries have started to go public about the projects they have asked to be included in the plan.
By far the largest amount of money, some CZK 2 trillion, is to go into transport infrastructure, a sector which according to the World Bank has been effectively starved of investment since 2011. According to the deputy minister of transport, Tomáš Čoček, more than half of the amount is to be put into the country’s railways. Much of the remainder is committed to highway infrastructure.
Speaking to Czech Television on Sunday, Klára Dostálová, the regional development minister, admitted the plan is already finished, but was unwilling to go into specific costs. Nevertheless, she did say the plan is likely to help draw much needed EU funding more effectively.
“For the period of 2014-2020 we have CZK 600 billion available from European funds. So it is not just the state budget we have to plan year-on-year, we also need to start preparing our future funding use.
“We can expect at least another CZK 500 billion in the future and it is very good also to show to the European Commission our ‘absorption capacity’ as they call it in Brussels.”
According to the Czech News Agency, the government hopes to spend around CZK 1.23 trillion by the end of its term in 2022.