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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 6, 2008
CHAIR OF THE YEAR 2007
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The Making of an Economy
February 6, 2008   
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The year 1989 marked the beginning of market-oriented reforms in Poland. They were based on a transition from central planning to a free market system.

The transition was ushered in by a package of economic reforms referred to as the Balcerowicz Plan-named after the main architect of the country's shock therapy, Leszek Balcerowicz, then deputy prime minister and finance minister. At the time, Poland was straining under hyperinflation. The annual inflation rate in 1989 stood at 639.6 percent, and the country's foreign debt was a staggering $42.3 billion, or 64.8 percent of the gross domestic product. There were enormous market shortages, and the economy as a whole was in deep crisis.

The Balcerowicz Plan consisted of 10 laws. They removed guarantees for the continued existence of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and prohibited the central bank from financing the budget deficit. They also banned the issuance of money without coverage and abolished preferential loans for SOEs. In addition, the package introduced an internal convertibility of the zloty and did away with state monopoly in foreign trade. These laws led to a considerable reduction in inflation and the budget deficit. In 1990, Poland recorded a budget surplus. Other results included the elimination of market shortages and the abolition of central distribution of materials, along with a substantial increase in foreign currency reserves and the fastest economic growth in Eastern Europe. Following the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Poland redirected its foreign trade toward the West. By 1996, EU countries, mainly Germany, Poland's western neighbor, accounted for about 70 percent of Poland's trade.

Today, after 19 years of transformation, Poland is a member of the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The condition of its economy is improving with each year. The Polish economy keeps growing and is increasingly competitive. In 2006 and 2007, Poland was the fastest growing economy in the EU. Last year, Poland's GDP grew by a healthy 6.5 percent and its labor market improved markedly. Today unemployment in Poland is down to either 11.2 percent, according to Poland's Central Statistical Office (GUS), or 8.8 percent, according to the EU statistics agency, the Eurostat. Unemployment has dropped due to the creation of new jobs, coupled with economic emigration; many Polish workers have left the country to work in other EU nations. Those working abroad have transferred about zl.22 billion to Poland, stimulating the country's economic growth by 1.5 percent. In 2007, Poland's GDP stood at about 55 percent of the EU average. At present, Poland is the sixth largest economy in the EU and the 23rd largest worldwide. In 2007, Poland's GDP per capita accounted for 56-59 percent of the EU average. In this area, Poland is expected to catch up with Portugal, the least affluent EU-15 country, in about two to four years. Economists say it may bridge the gap separating it from Europe's most affluent nations by 2020.

Michał Jeziorski


Honorary diplomas will be awarded to THE President of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, Ludwik Sobolewski, and the companies constituting the Entrepreneurship Council:

Business Centre Club - President Marek Goliszewski
The Business Centre Club was founded in 1991. It is a business club and the biggest private employer organization in Poland. The BCC affiliates over 1,200 companies, chiefly private-owned and represented by nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs jointly controlling zl.200 billion in capital and employing 600,000 people.

Foreign Investors' Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Poland - President Zdzisław Jagodziński
The chamber was established in 1989. It is a business organization that affiliates foreign investors and Polish companies from all industries. Chamber members include well-known companies such as Polska Telefonia Komórkowa Centertel, Era, Sobiesław Zasada S.A., Polskie Autobusy, Alpha, International Paper Kwidzyn, Can-Pack, 3M, Remondis, KPMG, DHL International, GlaxoSmithKline, and Krka.

Confederation of Polish Employers (KPP)- President Andrzej Malinowski
Poland's first employer organization established in 1989. It brings together 32 employer associations and 34 national employers. Most of the 6,000 enterprises it represents are affiliated in regional or industry employer organizations. Initially, the KPP chiefly represented state employers, especially in matters concerned with privatization. Today it also promotes legislation aimed at assisting private businesses. KPP member companies employ about 12 percent of the national labor force outside agriculture.

The Polish Chamber of Commerce (KIG)- President Andrzej Arendarski
Established in 1990, KIG is the largest business self-regulation organization in Poland. It brings together more than 130 organizations with a total of 300,000 member enterprises. The chamber carries out its activities through 16 committees and four platforms chaired by prominent businesspeople, scholars, local government officials and social activists. It represents the interests of Polish enterprises in dealings with the president of Poland, parliament, government and local governments, and comments on draft legislation pertaining to the economy. KIG is a member of the Association of the European Chambers of Industry and Commerce (Eurochambers) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris.

The National Association of Trade and Services- President Roman Dera
The beginnings of the association date back to the early 20th century. In 1925, the organization's first congress was attended by several hundred unionists and merchants from all over Poland. Today the National Association of Trade and Services is a business self-regulation organization that represents small and medium-sized businesses active in sectors such as retail, catering and other services. The association is an associate member of EuroCommerce, a EU organization based in Brussels.

Polish Business Roundtable - President Zbigniew Jakubas
The Polish Business Roundtable was set up in 1992 in Warsaw during a meeting of a group of entrepreneurs who included the chief executive officers of several dozen Polish and foreign companies. The decision to establish the organization was based on a belief that the country's biggest entrepreneurs and employers needed a body to represent their interests in contacts with the state administration.

Lewiatan Polish Confederation of Private Employers - President Henryka Bochniarz
Lewiatan is a nongovernmental organization that represents private Polish enterprises. Established in January 1999, the organization promotes the development of entrepreneurship in Poland. About 3,000 companies employing more than 600,000 people are affiliated in Lewiatan's 56 regional and industry associations.

The confederation is a member of the Tripartite Commission for Social and Economic Affairs in Poland and of the BusinessEurope organization in Brussels.

Polish-German Chamber of Commerce - President Burghardt Bruhn
The Polish-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce is the largest bilateral chamber in Poland and also one of the most influential German Chambers of Industry and Commerce Abroad (AHK) in the world. The chamber launched its operations at the Royal Castle in Warsaw in the presence of government leaders from both countries in 1994. The chamber supports Polish-German economic relations and protects the interests of Polish and German companies in both countries. It has 565 members.

The Association of Managers in Poland - President Maria Schicht
The Managers Association in Poland was established in 1994. Unlike with other business associations, its members are not company owners but first- and second-level managers. The association's mission is to represent managerial personnel, promote business ethics and contribute to the country's economic growth.

Polish Craft Association (ZPR) - President Jerzy Bartnik
The Polish Craft Association was established in 1933. It affiliates 490 guilds, 271 cooperatives and 27 craft chambers, including 26 regional chambers and one sector chamber. The ZPR and its regional organizations constitute the oldest and biggest business self-regulation organization in Poland's private sector. Its 300,000 member businesses employ a combined 1.5 million people.

American Chamber of Commerce in Poland (AmCham) - President Roman Rewald
The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland was established in 1991 at the initiative of American entrepreneurs to actively promote U.S. investment in Poland and to improve investment opportunities here. AmCham is a nonprofit, apolitical organization with more than 300 member companies.
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