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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 5, 2008
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November 5, 2008   
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Janusz Jarosiński, president of the Maritime Container Port of Gdynia:

The Port of Gdynia is situated in the Bay of Gdańsk, on the Baltic coast. Gdynia is a major Baltic container port and the largest general cargo port in Poland. Gdynia has come a long way since receiving its first vessel back in 1923. The port is now a modern operation that has won a strong position for itself on the European transport market.

Gdynia today is a modern port complex with two container terminals, one dedicated ro-ro terminal, and several bulk cargo facilities handling all sorts of grain, fuel, fertilizer, coal, chemicals and so on. The Port of Gdynia began to expand and develop in line with customer needs in the 1990s and continues to do so. This substantial investment has made the port a recognizable and respected name in the Baltic and European maritime communities. The Port of Gdynia's investor-friendly policy has attracted terminal container operators like ICTSI and Hutchison Port Holdings.

Gdynia has also invested heavily into developing its ro-ro and ferry terminals. This has paid dividends in terms of Baltic traffic, especially on the Finnish and Swedish routes. Stena Line used to run three ships per day on the Gdynia-Karlskrona route during the spring/summer season. Now there are two ships in service every day during the autumn/spring season.

Gdynia's important feeder connections to all the most European hub ports puts it in first place along the Polish sea coast.

The Baltic Container Terminal and the Gdynia Container Terminal handle 80 percent of containers transported to and from Poland by sea. Both have seen the volumes they handle shoot up recently.

Significantly, the Port of Gdynia carries out projects substantially supported by the European Union Cohesion Fund. Under the national "Environment and Infrastructure" program, the port will be upgrading its main channel, building a new ferry passenger terminal with road access, and modernizing the infrastructure of the ro-ro terminal. The Port of Gdynia is also keen to prepare the infrastructure for a future logistic center, using its own funds.

It was on July 13, 1918 that the Regency Council of the Kingdom of Poland established the Central Statistical Office (GUS) by way of decree. It became the only agency empowered to manage statistical research, store data sets, and develop and disseminate reports to meet the needs of all segments of society.

This was the first institution of the independent Polish state, created five months prior to the official proclamation of independence. The Regency Council equipped the new institution with jurisdiction that was far-reaching with respect to all state, public, social, religious, and scientific institutions. The GUS was given the right to apply statistical responsibilities and order the creation of documentation. It received the authority to create research programs, establish methodology, undertake analyses and studies, publish results, and interpret basic statistical levels and values. All this proved of exceptional importance. The legal, organizational, and scientific structure of the GUS was in line with the highest European and world standards. The creation of a statistical office in 1918 put it on a par with the best statistical institutions of Europe, including those of France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States.

The GUS was formed by great patriots involved in the preservation of "Polishness" in the lands of all the partitions as well as in the fight to regain independence. Prof. Józef Buzek of Cracow and Prof. Ludwik Krzywicki of Warsaw headed the group of founders of the GUS.

The former was the organizer of statistics in Galicia and head of the statistical commissions of Cracow, Lviv, and Vienna. He was a statistician, demographer, sociologist, economist, and lawyer. He was also a man of extraordinary imagination, extensive knowledge, and enormous research skills, as well as the author of a substantial number of statistical studies and papers in the field of demography, including the Galician General Censuses of 1900 and 1910. He developed excellent studies of issues regarding the Polish population of Galicia and also authored the first draft of the constitution of the reemerging Polish state.

For his part, Krzywicki was the author of several excellent works covering economic and social questions, and can be considered heaven-sent with respect to the enormous resources of the Warsaw Statistical Committee organized by Tsarist Russia, one of the partitioning powers. Krzywicki took over the abandoned archives of the committee in 1915 and saved this rich collection for the future of Polish statistics.

The year 1918 marked the beginning of a decade of initial organization of the GUS, including the organization of Polish statistics. The following year, in 1919, the parliament passed an act legitimizing the Central Statistical Office within the structure of the Polish state. Step by step, over the next few years, Buzek took over all matters relating to national statistics from various administrative bodies. It is thanks to him that today we have a fundamental differentiation between statistics as a set of data about the state for the state, and administrative data, which is a collection of information used by the services of various ministries and offices.

The newly established GUS conducted the first General Population Census in the Polish state in 1921. It was within the framework of this census that the office collected material relating to war orphans, making Poland the only country in postwar Europe to do so. The information from this census was not only collected, but was also analyzed and published. By conducting the census, and analyzing and publishing its findings, the Polish state provided proof that it was a legitimate and efficient organism and government system with complete control over its area. In successive years, the GUS developed support for scientific and methodological studies. It expanded and enriched its library, established an information bureau, trained people, and formed a staff that proved indispensable over the coming decades.

The GUS employed 14 people on Nov. 8, 1918. Just one year later its staff amounted to 400. When in 1925 Buzek published an excellent work on major statistical offices in the countries of Europe, the GUS employed 469 people.

The 18th Congress of the International Statistic Institute (ISI), one of the most renowned professional statistician organizations in the history of world statistics, was held in Warsaw in 1929. This was a great honor for the GUS. It was an expression of recognition for Buzek as well as for the Central Statistical Office. It was also an expression of recognition for the Polish state, which managed to organize one of the most important institutions vital to the functioning of the state administration within a span of 10 years. For all practical purposes it was organized out of nothing. Its staff was made up of people from Galicia, Congress Poland, and Prussia as well as experts who came from France, Germany, and the United States. In spite of a diversity of experience and fortunes, they had the capability and the desire to undertake the enormous task of developing Polish state statistics. In this effort, the greatest credit should go to Buzek, a Pole and a European, whose work is being continued by his grandnephew, Jerzy Buzek-former prime minister and current European Parliament deputy.

Because of the poor health of Buzek, the position of president of the GUS was taken over in 1929 by Prof. Edward Szturm de Sztrem. He managed the institution up to the moment of Poland's loss of independence in 1939. It is thanks to Szturm de Sztrem that methodology and discipline-based research organization was introduced to statistics. The years 1930-1938 saw the development, publication, and introduction into statistical practice of several dozen industry-based statistics relating to manufacturing, construction, agriculture, trade, prices, demography, science, and so on. This was an enormous effort whose importance has not faded despite the passage of several decades. It was also during his tenure that a second General Population Census was conducted in 1931. This was a study that was never published, despite its completed calculations. It was accompanied by an aura of hysteria and political quarrels caused by the manner and conditions under which the census was conducted in Poland's eastern borderlands. The GUS chose not to brave publication in an atmosphere of parliamentary scandal and open conflict, skirmishes, and insinuations of a cover-up of the ethnic origins of people living in the borderlands. The entire period of activity of Szturm de Sztrem was one of basic work without which the Polish state would have been incapable of implementing any of its ventures for that period, including the Central Industrial Region and the building of Gdynia. In fact, the day-to-day operations of government administration on all levels would have been impossible.

The Central Statistical Office had been planning its third General Census for the year 1940. The outbreak of the war made these plans impossible. Nevertheless, Polish statisticians did not interrupt their scientific research and information activities in spite of the German occupation. Over the entire period, they provided materials to meet the needs of the Polish underground state. They collected information about the population and its extermination and the economic robbery conducted by the occupant, as well as research into household budgets. They developed analyses and forwarded information to the Polish government in exile. Among all the occupied European countries, Polish statistics were the only ones used in working towards the regaining of independence and the needs of the underground state. Polish statisticians were the only ones in Europe who published a yearbook in the English language, the Polish Statistical Yearbook in June of 1941. It provides information on the situation in 1939, enriching it with the inclusion of data from the 1939-1941 period.

The GUS reopened March 12, 1945, nearly two months prior to the end of World War II. An enormous amount of census and research work was carried out in 1945. It primarily documented the state of the country, wartime losses, and the needs of the state at that moment. It was also then that preparations were launched for the next General Population Census. The decision to conduct the census was taken in December of 1945. The first postwar Summary Population Census was carried out on Feb. 14, 1946. Its results were shocking. It was confirmed that, compared with more than 35 million people of Poland counted in 1939 on Polish territory, the population had dropped to 23.8 million citizens.

The years 1946-1949 were primarily a period of rebuilding, reconstruction, and development of the traditional structure of national statistics. This work was mainly accomplished by statisticians from the 1920s and 30s, including Prof. Stefan Szulc, Szturm de Sztrem, Maria Czarnowska, and Józef Wojtyniak, as well as Kazimierz Romaniuk, Stanisław Róg, and others. However, as time passed, the communist authorities increased pressure to make statistics subordinate to the canons of central planning and to transfer the institution's management to planning bodies. As a body, the GUS survived these pressures, but it was forced into silence in 1949. For the next five years it was the Party apparatus that spoke in the name of the Central Statistical Office. Unfortunately, statisticians played a role in this situation and managed statistics subject to the will of the authorities. Nevertheless, the GUS did not lose its organizational integrity. It managed to evade closing down and most importantly, it managed to ward off interference in internal organizational, methodological, and analytical matters. It ceased publishing, making available, and forwarding research results.

This silence lasted until 1955, when the Little Statistical Yearbook provided data for the years 1950-1954 in a mimeographed format. The year 1956 saw the start of a 50-year period of incessant changes, increased resources, development, and integration with world statistics. This occurred within the rhythm of the terms in office of the successive heads of the Central Statistical Office. Essentially, the GUS management did not interfere in the activities of the institution itself over the years 1956-1965. Each year, statisticians recovered old studies and developed new methodologies. By 1960, Polish statistics actively collaborated with world statistics, especially with such bodies as the United Nations, which received population data.

The year 1950 inaugurated a series of General Population and Housing Censuses that is being continued to this very day. These were the population censuses of 1950, 1960, 1970, 1978, 1988, and 2002. The General Agricultural Census was added to the Population Censuses in the 1990s (in 1996 and 2002). Each successive census was a new phase in the development of statistical research methodology and a new element in the program for their analysis and publication. The largest censuses to date have been the 1970 Census as well as the Censuses of 2002 (the joint Population and Agricultural Census).

The development of the GUS was primarily influenced by the development of the institution, its program, and its field structures. The year 1965 marked the beginning of the term in office of Prof. Wincenty Kawalec, whose tenure proved immensely consequential. He molded the Central Statistical Office and Polish statistics into an institution of international standing. He not only remodeled the GUS building, but developed its methodology and research organization. He introduced the GUS to international statistical and economic organizations, and attracted a noteworthy group of statisticians, sociologists, and demographers to work on statistics. His concern for the social problems of workers, their pay, housing, and health conditions was legendary. He was a monumental figure as a statistician, but also as a scientist, politician, and statesman. Unfortunately, he came to be appreciated by the authorities as well "and immediately advanced to the post of minister of labor." Beginning with his term of office as GUS president, statistical information technology began to develop strongly. Its beginnings date from the 1960s, when the GUS installed the first modern ICL-type mainframes.

After Kawalec's term ended, the position was taken over by Prof. Stanisław Kuziński, a cult figure from the Party apparatus, but also a prominent scholar and professor of the University of Warsaw. He was very much liked by his students and colleagues. First and foremost, he worked so the Central Statistical Office and Polish statistics could be present not only within the structure of Comecon, but also all of the institutions of the United Nations. The fruit of these efforts was an ISI congress in 1975 in Warsaw. This was an event that was of the utmost importance for Poland because this time, Polish statisticians received an opportunity to meet several hundred scholars from around the world.

The Solidarity Independent Trade Union was established in the Central Statistical Office following a wave of general agitation in 1980. It proved to be an exceptionally strong, vigorous, and efficient organization that caused enormous trouble for the authorities. Over a mere two years, this organization prepared a new draft act and undertook an enormous amount of analytical and research work aimed at presenting the truth about official statistics from previous decades. It was in constant conflict with the Central Statistical Office management of the time as well as with state political authorities. Both structures were bombarded with information, communiqués, and demands to disclose the truth about social and political life. The price for this was paid on Dec. 13, 1981 when over a dozen persons at the GUS lost their jobs and several hundred became objects of incessant persecution, hounding, and restrictions on their trade union activities.

The years 1981-1989 were the period for the activities of Prof. Wiesław Sadowski, who is credited with preserving the main programs of the Central Statistical Office as well as for protecting most of the staff from persecution and repression. This was a relatively short period, but the silence of the GUS was similar to that of the 1950s.

As early as 1983, activities were launched to which neither the GUS management nor state administration could or would react in a negative manner. This was therefore a period of an enormous series of studies on household conditions that lasted up to 1992. These were modern studies based on large samples that unexpectedly bore fruit in a publication that is legendary today: Population Living Conditions Over the Years 1981-1985. The publication boosted its print run from approximately 200,000 copies to 500,000 copies over six months. Its content was studied by all levels of state and party authorities. The information it contained resulted in enormous shock and dismay among the country's political apparatus and clearly resulted in a significant weakening of its authority. Each successive study provided new information and was increasingly widely published and known to public opinion. Research was conducted in all fields of statistics, and contacts were broadened with European and world statistics. The year 1988 saw the start of studies on retail prices, which later became the basis for one of the most important studies in European statistics.

The years 1989-2008 were a period of enormous change in Polish statistics, bringing the Central Statistical Office out of a corner of the former communist bloc and into the center of European statistics. The years 1989-1991 brought about transformations of a formal character. It was a period of great importance for the future of Polish statistics, because no longer were publications and studies subject to official secrecy and restricted access. This period also marked the beginning of collaboration with the World Bank, the IMF, Eurostat, and most European countries. After the whirlwind period of 1991-1992, another period of intensive transformation started in 1992 and was to last up to 1995. The main author of these changes was current GUS President Prof. Józef Oleński. He is credited not only with developing the most modern legislation on public statistics in Europe, but also as a defining presence in its statistical organizations. He played an enormous role with his two-year term as Chairman of the UN Statistical Commission. This meant that as the first European and only representative from Central and Eastern Europe, he was the world's Chief Statistician during his term.

Tadeusz Toczyński headed the office from 1996-2006 with the support of the authorities and officers of the governing apparatus of the 1980s. On the one hand, this period was full of spectacular achievements in social, economic, and econometric studies, including the efficiently conducted negotiations regarding accession to the European Union with respect to statistics; the expanding of contacts and collaboration with all the countries of the world; a remarkably rich training cycle at home and abroad, and the exceptionally important transformation in the realm of meta-statistics and statistical information technology. On the other hand, this was a period of huge losses in terms of competencies, staff, and-to make matters worse-the loss of a scientific unit that had been functioning within the GUS. In spite of these difficulties, the year 2002 saw the completion of an unprecedented project: the simultaneous conducting of the National General Population and Housing Census and the General Agricultural Census. This was the brightest moment of the whole decade, but problems appeared that were the result of neglect and volunteer negligence as well as incompetence, in spite of Poland's positive entry into European statistics in 2004.

Tremendous work aimed at returning Polish statistics to their significant role in European and world statistics has been under way since the fall of 2006. This includes the reconstruction of reporting into electronic reporting, the reclassification of the entire economic system, the specialization of statistical offices on the province level, the transformation of the information system, and the return to their rightful place of information equipment and solutions that had not been playing this role to date. Among the most important efforts during this period were significant efforts by the statistical office to meet standards of statistical confidentiality, which not all components of the justice system of a democratic state treat with respect.

Today's public statistics are on the right road of development. They have the respect of authorities and a position in the world. They have a good perspective in studies and methodology. However, there is an awareness that there is still much to do in order to make statistics fuller, better, and more efficient than is the case to date.

On the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Central Statistical Office, Polish statistics are visible as a modern system of studies, analyses, and statistical reports serving all elements of the social structure, tied with modern science and methodology, collaborating with all European and world statistical organizations, and respecting ethical norms and standards acknowledged by all statisticians of the world. The GUS is ready and willing to help everyone who is interested in Poland and its studies, providing objective knowledge that is reliable, understandable, and accessible in line with the principle of equal, equivalent, and simultaneous access to information. The message contained in this declaration is something that shall be observed over and above any political situation.
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