Former Microsoft Executive Becomes Czech Finance Minister

Ivan Pilný’s economic leadership could be critical in the coming months, given the CzechRepublic'soverdependence on challenged European countries.

Ivan Pilný takes job at a time of growth

The former finance minister, Andrej Babiš, was under significant pressure to resign as the result of tax fraud allegations. The selection of a new minister will provide some stability for the Czech political system until its next elections later this year. Meanwhile, the prime minister has announced his resignation after the president, Miloš Zeman, had provoked a constitutional crisis by initially resisting for two weeks before acceding to Sobotka’s demands for Babiš’s firing.

Pilný takes over during a period of a government budget surplus, economic growth and a strong labor market. According to the IMF, the estimated GDP of the Czech economy for 2017 is $201.1 billion. “The EU-28 unemployment rate was 7.8% in April 2017, down from 7.9% in March 2017 and from 8.7% in April 2016. … Among the member states, the lowest unemployment rates in April 2017 were recorded in the Czech Republic (3.2%),” the Eurostat agency reported May 31.

Yet Pilný’s economic leadership could be critical in the coming months in light of the overdependence of the Czech economy on several other European countries going through political, security and economic challenges, including Brexit in the UK, the change of government in France, upcoming elections in Germany and rising nationalism across the continent.

According to the OECD, in 2016 80% of Czech GDP came from its export of goods and services, which reflects the interconnections between the Czech economy and its European partners, such as Germany, France and the UK.

Pilný’s technology background and his rising role in Czech politics reflect the new place of Czech tech entrepreneurship in regional and global economies. Several Central and Eastern European countries, such as Poland, have managed to create a new culture of innovation and corporate success, especially among young engineers.