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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 4, 2010
Voice's Award
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The Chair of the Year Goes to Prof. Jacek Rostowski
February 4, 2010   
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Who should receive the Chair of the Year award for 2009, a singular year overshadowed by huge global economic crisis? One by one, countries threatened with the collapse of their banking systems took emergency action to put out the fires, pumping in a stream of cash. This response became natural, normal, acceptable to the public and expected. Not in Poland, though.

The winners of The Warsaw Voice's annual award receive a bronze miniature depicting a film director's chair, in recognition of their role in shaping the nation's fortunes over the previous 12 months. Our lives in 2009 were unquestionably shaped by the global crisis and its local after-effects, the state of our economy, entrepreneurs' skills, the public mood and, of course, the quality of decision-making.

In 2009 everyone's attention was focused on the work of finance ministers. Poland was no exception. Would the Polish finance minister behave like the others, giving in to numerous demands and start working the cash pump?

The Warsaw Voice has decided to hand its Chair of the Year award for 2009 to Prof. Jacek Rostowski, the minister of finance. Rostowski didn't behave like a firefighter. The pump stayed practically sealed. It takes courage for a politician to act contrary to trends and expectations. To adopt such a stance, and for it to be wise and effective, requires more than just courage, though. It also takes knowledge and determination, composure and prudence, honesty and restraint. Rostowski decided that Poland's assets were strong enough not to warrant an immediate, dramatic rescue operation. He also saw that Poland could and should make decisions and take action on behalf of the new European Union members from Central Europe, whose capacity to react to the crisis was different from that available to the "old" EU. He put his authority on the line.

As a result, Poland became the only country in the EU that escaped recession and won praise from many of the world's financial organizations for coming top of the class. As for Prof. Rostowski himself, the Emerging Markets service named him finance minister of the year 2009 among Europe's emerging markets.

The fate of Poland in 2009, and also largely the whole region, undoubtedly depended on the directing skills of Prof. Rostowski. The Warsaw Voice's Chair award is going to the right person.


ROSTOWSKI was born April 30, 1951. From 1995 to 2000 and 2005-2006, he was dean of the Economics Department at the Central European University in Budapest. From 1988 to 1995, he was a lecturer at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, and in 1992-1995 he worked at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). From 1989 to 1991, he was an economic adviser to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz. He headed the Macroeconomic Policy Council at the Ministry of Finance 1997-2001, and was an adviser to the governor of the National Bank of Poland 2002-2004. He was also appointed adviser on macroeconomic policy to the Russian Federation's government. He worked with Bank Pekao SA as management board adviser from 2004, ending this role just before he became finance minister. Rostowski is one of the founders of the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE). He has been a member of the Foundation Council (resigning upon his appointment as finance minister). As a professor of economics, he has written numerous publications on EU integration, monetary policy, currency exchange policy and the transformation of post-communist economies.

The Warsaw Voice's annual Chair of the Year award has previously gone to:
1989-Lech Wałęsa
1990-Leszek Balcerowicz
1991-Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
1992-Hanna Suchocka
1993-Warsaw Stock Exchange
1994-Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
1995-The Supreme Court's Chamber of Administration, Labor and Social Security
1996-the passenger car
1997-Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Roman Kluska-the Chair of the Decade
1998-Jerzy Buzek
1999-Bronisław Geremek
2000-Aleksander Kwaśniewski
2001-Adam Małysz
2002-Danuta Hübner
2003-Jerzy Hausner
2004-Marek Belka
2005-Rafał Blechacz
2006-the economy
2007-Donald Tusk
2008-Leszek Balcerowicz and Lech Wałęsa-the Chair of the Two Decades



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