Prime Minister Necas: OECD, the Mirror We Need
01.06.2011 / 14:07
The following article was published in Lidove noviny daily on May 25 and later also on the server www.parlamentnilisty.cz (May 27, 2011).
This year we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Its existence is based on the Marshall Plan for reconstruction of post-war Europe. As in those times, and nowadays as well, the promotion of economic growth is in the core of its agenda, and thus the prosperity of its member states.
A country can become a member of the OECD if it enjoys parliamentary democratic regime and free market economy. On the one hand, I am pleased that the aforementioned attributes are considered by majority of Czech population to be the matter of fact, on the other hand, we should be committed to remind ourselves of these attributes on a daily basis. As F.A. Hayek says: “Freedom cannot endure unless every generation restates and reemphasizes its value.“ The anniversary of foundation of the OECD represents an ideal occasion for such reflections. Moreover, the Czech Republic has been its member for more than fifteen years.
The official application to the OECD was submitted by the government of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus in 1994 and the country became a regular member state one year later. The importance of our admission to this prestigious club of countries goes beyond the fact itself. It also meant a comeback to the track of functioning democratic capitalism that was interrupted in February 1948. Without this “Victorious February”, the Czech Republic would have been one of the founding countries of the OECD.
OECD recommends and advises
Unlike other universal international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, the OECD does not provide states with financial resources, but it extends recommendations and advice. It could seem that it does not have such importance in globalized world, but the contrary is true.
Besides, it is clear every day from the news from Greece, Portugal or Ireland. Billions of Euros that are flowing to these countries do not resolve their problems. On the contrary, these governments will have to introduce even harder reforms and the cuts will be even more painful, while it would have been sufficient to follow the recommendations issued by the OECD. The well-known proverb says that good advice is better than gold. Therefore, the Economic Outlooks by the OECD represent an important input for Czech government´s evaluation of its policies. They constitute an important mirror that we need. A mirror that is not stained by local politics, populism and prior deprecation. They provide us with an independent outside view that gives us priceless feedback.
It is not only a narrow area of public finances that is of concern. The scope of these recommendations is much broader. It affects the energy sector, pension system, labor market, health or education. Indeed, without the PISA survey, organized by the OECD, we would not even know how much the results of the Czech students have declined. This year's meeting of the OECD Council, the supreme authority of this organization was an extraordinary event. The 50th anniversary Meeting was attended by many Prime Ministers and Presidents. There was also a series of public meetings, on such topics as the global economy, and how to respond to the changing world in the future. This was a unique opportunity to exchange experiences.
The objective of the OECD will remain the same in the years to come, but the way to achieve it will adapt to the changing world around us. In recent years we have experienced an almost global economic crisis from which some states will come out victorious, others will be weakened. The first group will probably include BRIICS States - namely Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa. Therefore, the OECD have also established close cooperation with these states. Without these countries, it would be difficult to solve global economic problems and their voices will be ever-more important. Although these countries, except for Russia, have not applied for membership, the co-operation is mutually beneficial.
Any further expansion of the Organization means a further expansion of democratic space and the free market economy. Democratic character of the OECD is evident of the voting procedure in the Council, where each State has one vote and decisions are taken by consensus. This way, the objective is interconnected with the means. I wish that the democratic process and free market economy has become a natural part of not only the population of 34 OECD member states, but also the rest of the world. The rapid development of economies of some countries may not become an obstacle to the democratic process, but rather a part of the journey towards the achievement of common goals. The gradual opening up of borders, economies and minds of politicians in some parts of the world in this sense fulfills my positive expectations.
Ing. Petr Necas, chairman of the party, a member of the Regional Council, Regional Association, and Prime Minister, Member of Parliament
 Translator´s note: In Februrary 1948 the Communist Party took over the country and the communist oppressive , non-democratic regime had lasted for forty.one years, until November 1989, when it was swept by the so-called „Velvet revolution“.