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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 30, 2008
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Investors Voice Euro 2012 Worries
January 30, 2008   
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The Warsaw Voice and its partners held the 10th annual Investors' Obstacle Course (IOC) conference at the Airport Hotel Okęcie in Warsaw Jan. 16-17. Conference participants included central and local government officials, parliamentarians and businesspeople, primarily developers and builders. The event also attracted officials from ministries responsible for the economy, infrastructure, and regional development.

Some of the conference's key debates focused on the European soccer championships to be held in Poland and Ukraine in 2012. Speakers pointed out that not much has been done to prepare for the event even though Poland was granted the right to hold the tournament nearly a year ago.

Work is still in progress on amendments to laws regulating Euro 2012-related construction projects. "Apart from discussions, nothing has been done to improve construction investment opportunities in Poland," said Mieczysław Ja¶kowski, secretary of the Investors' Conference Presidium. "Even if an investor buys land with a construction permit, due to imperfect regulations they never know whether they will be able to complete the project or not." In this context, Ja¶kowski cited a failed project in Poznań where an investor bought a plot of land with a construction permit and started construction work, but several months later the province governor revoked the permit, arguing that the document had been signed by an unauthorized official. Ja¶kowski said "such situations will continue to occur as long as Polish regulations remain unclear."

"Unfortunately, no one pays attention to the consequences of such decisions," Ja¶kowski said. "From the investor's point of view, the city is responsible for stopping the project, and that means the taxpayers will have to pay."

Jacek Studencki, president of Techmex SA, a conference partner, said, "The hi-tech sector, which the Techmex SA company is representing at this Investors' Obstacle Course, would like to draw the attention of all decision makers and those who are coordinating Euro 2012 preparations to the opportunities offered by innovative technology. This especially concerns technology based on satellite technology that may significantly accelerate the preparations. The championships are a great opportunity for Poland's development in sectors such as infrastructure, sports and tourism, and public security. We must not waste this opportunity."

In their discussions concerning preparations for the tournament, conference participants said that the cities expected to host Euro 2012 matches may be unable to build the necessary facilities without government assistance. While the new National Stadium for 50,000 spectators, a project that is still on the drawing board, will be entirely financed from the national budget, Warsaw also needs training stadiums. Each will cost over zl.300 million. For example, the planned modernization of the Legia Warszawa soccer club stadium alone will cost zl.365 million, and a Wisła Cracow stadium upgrade will claim a further zl.320 million.

Local officials said the new stadiums will continue to be used after the championships as well. That is why city officials said they plan to hire professional property managers.

Another important issue is the safety of the thousands of soccer fans who are expected to arrive in Poland for the tournament. Volunteers will be needed to handle this traffic, and Poland has significant experience in volunteer activity, conference participants said. Some of the examples include the recent Great Christmas Aid Orchestra fundraiser for sick children that was wholly based on volunteer work.

ŁódĽ Mayor Jerzy Kropiwnicki was among the participants who spoke about the government's "insufficient support" for public-private partnership projects. "The law puts the private partner under many obligations, treating them with great suspicion," he said.

Officials promised that the investors' conclusions and proposals would be submitted to the central authorities for consideration.

The Voice would like to thank its conference partners and sponsors for their assistance in organizing the event.

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