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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 18, 2009
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Poland 2030
November 18, 2009 By A.R.    
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A government think-tank has compiled a report to initiate public debate on what needs to be done to improve the quality of life in Poland in the next 20 years.

The report, entitled Poland 2030: Development Challenges, was written by Prime Minister Donald Tusk's team of strategic advisers headed by Micha³ Boni.

The report identifies the 10 greatest challenges Poland is expected to face in the next two decades. These challenges are associated with problems such as competitiveness, demographic developments, economic activity rates, infrastructure, energy and climate security, the development of a knowledge-based economy, development of intellectual capital, solidarity and regional cohesion, and public administration.

According to government experts, the report is a new lodestar for the country. "We need it because the two periods of development which have driven the country so far-the transition after 1989 and entry to the European Union in 2004-will no longer be sufficient for Poland to be able to compete successfully with other countries in the global marketplace," said Boni. If Poland is to avoid problems in development, it should identify its weaknesses, goals and ways of achieving them, Boni said. "This should be done now because the future starts today," he added.

According to Boni, Poland also needs a long-term strategy because the crisis may offer an opportunity to modernize the country. But Poles need to muster the courage to carry out reforms, Boni said.

The authors of the report believe that in order to ensure stable economic growth, Poland should shift tax burdens from direct to indirect taxes, manage public finances through "task-based" budgets, enter the euro zone, and offer preferential tax treatment to investing companies. Thanks to these measures, the country's long-term economic growth in 2009-2030 is expected to accelerate to at least 5 percent per annum, with annual inflation remaining within the 1-3 percent band. The proportion of exports based on modern technology is expected to increase to 40 percent from 3.1 percent today; the contribution of hi-tech sectors to GDP generation would rise to 25 percent, and the long-term investment rate would go up from 18 to 25 percent.

The report proposes a model of development based on "polarization and diffusion." This means supporting the key "poles of growth" whereby large Polish cities would be able to compete successfully with other cities in Europe, and decision makers would strive to remove obstacles to the development of other areas. This "diffusion" is supposed to help equalize educational opportunities, build inter-generational solidarity, and give people a feeling that they can fulfill their aspirations, according to the government.

The report assumes that there will be a rise in employment and population growth rates so that for one economically active person there are on average 1.1 to 1.2 economically inactive people by 2030, as opposed to a ratio of one to 1.7 at present. By 2030, the retirement age of men and women would be equalized and extended to at least 67 years.

Efficient public administration is an important part of the strategy, Boni said. Apart from reorganizing and modernizing public administration, the court system and the law-making process, the project involves the development of e-government. The report calls for the development of flexible forms of employment, which will make it possible to combine work with education and family life. Modern forms of assistance would be offered to the unemployed. As a result, the average unemployment rate would stay below 5 percent.

The report calls for developing transport infrastructure, with an increase in the average speed of trains and the density of freeways and expressways. Much hope is being pinned on computerization. In 20 years, 75 percent of Poland's households are expected to have high-speed internet access. At present, 48 percent of households have internet access and 38 percent have broadband access.

Under the strategy, spending on research and development would rise to 4 percent of GDP annually, with at least 2 percent coming from private sources. The proportion of scientists working in the private sector would increase from 8 to 40 percent, and the proportion of students in engineering, technical, mathematics and computing faculties would rise to 20-25 percent.

The report does not propose any highly detailed measures to be taken. Its main aim is to initiate public debate, officials say. The government wants to prepare a package of detailed proposals by the end of next year.
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