Prague, Oct 20 (CTK) – The current marked economic growth could be slowed by a shortage of a qualified workforce and the state of digitisation of the country and its infrastructure, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said at an annual conference on the state of the country.

The conference called “Czech Republic: The Shape We’re In” is organised by the Aspen Institute Prague and Forbes.

Sobotka said changes will have to be made in education and that a controlled active migrant policy will have to be pursued.

“The biggest practical barrier now is the functioning of the visa system with Ukraine that is overloaded. The government will soon deal with a project that will allow employers looking for staff in Ukraine to report their requirements, which could make the system more effective,” Sobotka said.

Turning to digitisation, Sobotka said the worst situation is in the state administration.

“Many countries are well ahead of us. It was also a mistake to abolish the IT ministry [in 2007], Sobotka said.

The Czech Republic may not get any subsidy from the EU to develop the Internet infrastructure unless it has a national plan of development of high-speed networks by the end of next year.

In the field of infrastructure, it is necessary to improve the motorway and rail connection with the neighbouring countries, Sobotka said.

The Czech economy grew more quickly than projected in the second quarter of the year. GDP increased by 4.6 percent year-on-year and by 1.1 percent compared with the first quarter of the year. The year-on-year growth was highest from end-2007.

A working group of the institute said the Czech Republic was not at all catching up with Germany, Finland and the Netherlands in the economic fields in the past decade, while Poland, Slovakia and Estonia even surpassed the Czech economy.

The group said the last ten years can be considered a lost decade with an almost zero productivity growth.

“A lost decade is a strong expression, but we wasted the existing potential,” Martin Jahn, deputy prime minister for the economy in 2004-05, said.

The Czech economy rose by 4 percent annually (measured by the purchasing power parity) in 2003-13, compared with 7 percent in Poland and 6.6 percent in Slovakia. Productivity of labour has stagnated in the Czech Republic since 2007, while it has grown by 2 to 3 percent in the other central and east European countries every year.