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Where has Topolánek’s NERV gone?

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With great pomp, though with a delay according to many, the government’s national economic council NERV started to advise PM Topolánek last autumn. After several weeks, regular meetings of the ten economists gave rise to a few concrete proposals designed to ease the impacts of the global economic crisis. But where has the team gone? And are they still working?

The NERV-proposed anti-crisis measures are the best what can be done in a given situation, most experts agreed at that time, and praises also came from the European Commission. By doing that, the council met its objective, and besides occasional news regarding the (more or less successful) approval of its proposals, the media no longer paid attention to NERV.

The government fall and the arrival of Fischer’s caretaker cabinet brought the necessary question concerning the future existence of Topolánek’s council of advisors. NERV members decided to support also the new government. The council changed a bit – Jiří Kunert and Martin Jahn left, while Petr Zahradník joined the team. But what are they working on now, what is their task? Do they meet yet?

“Our cooperation continues, although it is not that obvious in the media now,” Fischer said in June. One of the council members, Michal Mejstřík, confirmed the information. “Mr Fischer has taken the group over and we meet on a regular basis, even though the intensity is lower now that the presidency is fading away,” Mejstřík told the online daily TÝ NERV members are supposed to meet twice during the summer holidays, he said.

NERV preparing budget, keeps details secret
And what are they dealing with? “The budget is the main subject of talks. We are carrying out a more detailed analysis, but I will not disclose the details for the moment,” said Mejstřík. One of the objectives is to supply expert materials to the Prime Minister and to the Finance Minister, he added.

Mejstřík also confirmed that the council members continue with regular meetings with students from the Institute of Economic Studies of the Charles University. “It involves roughly fifteen students, of whom two are from the University of Economics, Prague.” Every Tuesday, they come to a lecture room to assist the busy economists. The macroeconomic models presented to the public were often mainly their job.

Students: Cooperation is advantageous for both sides
Students praise the meetings with renowned economists too. “It’s a good symbiosis. The chance to work under the supervision of top Czech economists gives us more than preparation for exams. At the same time, we believe that our knowledge of the theory and analytical skills will contribute to another economic strategy,” one of the students, Gledis Kazaziová, told TÝ Occasionally, communication with some NERV members then turns into a more stormy debate during informal get-togethers.

According to Mejstřík, NERV still has a lot to offer. “Towards the end of August, we are expecting another specific outcome that deserves attention of the broader public,” the economist said.

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