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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » December 16, 2009
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From the NEWS editor
December 16, 2009   
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Poland will probably be the only European Union country with GDP growth this year. Most EU countries are in recession, while Poland is coping surprisingly well with the global crisis. Exports are growing, industrial performance is up, and since spring shares prices have risen substantially for most companies listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The decrease in domestic demand has slowed. The investment market picked up in the third quarter and a growing number of foreign entrepreneurs are looking at Poland as an attractive place to develop their business. Finally, Poland has made the most use of EU funds-it absorbs 20 percent of financial aid available under the cohesion policy and, importantly, all this money is being used. All this bodes well for the coming months. The impact of the global crisis on the domestic economy has been much smaller than forecasts predicted a year ago. According to government ministers responsible for the economy as well as entrepreneurs, optimism is justified that, for Poland at least, the crisis is passing.

In assessing the state of the economy today, it is worth remembering that it is almost exactly 20 years since Poland launched a series of sweeping political and economic reforms to transform its centrally planned economy into a free market. The key player in these changes was Prof. Leszek Balcerowicz, the architect of the Balcerowicz Plan, also known as "shock therapy." This was the first program of its kind in Eastern Europe. In just months, Poland transformed from a country suffering hyperinflation and chronic shortages into one with a stable currency and fully stocked store shelves. All this was not accomplished without problems, of course-even today there is a sizable group of people who suffered as a result of the Balcerowicz Plan, experiencing poverty and job losses. Looking at the country as a whole, though, the changes launched 20 years ago have resulted in a solid economy, growing prosperity and stability. When observers remark that Poland is coping well with the global crisis, it's worth remembering the difficult road the country has had to travel since the collapse of communism here two decades ago.
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