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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 30, 2014
Business & Economy
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More Than Empty Promises?
January 30, 2014   
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The Polish economy is expected to pick up speed this year and the government is keen to take advantage of that. Most Polish and international financial institutions are predicting the country’s GDP will grow about 3 percent in 2014, double last year’s figure.

This may be some way from the heady 5 percent Poland enjoyed before the global crisis, but still a result that many other countries in Europe would envy. Meanwhile, a revival in industry is expected, along with higher investment. Poland’s revenue from exports is expected to continue growing and the situation on the labor market is likely to improve.

The upbeat forecasts are good news for the Polish government, which in January unveiled ambitious plans for the coming months. The priority, according to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, is to make sure that Polish families feel more secure about their future. One way to achieve this will be to restrict the use of so-called trash contracts—which many employers sign with employees instead of giving them full-time job contracts in order to avoid paying health insurance contributions, social security contributions and so on. However, with unemployment still a cause for concern, the government will be careful. At first, employers who use “fee-for-task” (umowa-zlecenie) agreements, which Tusk believes cause problems on the labor market, will have to pay social security contributions on behalf of their employees. The government will also change regulations on public procurement to make sure that tenders are awarded to companies that do not exploit their employees. The government is also planning to tackle unemployment with a program to help young people find their first job. Other ideas to make life easier for families include cutting waiting times for health care, free textbooks for school students and tasking officials with filling out people’s personal income tax statements, rather than requiring taxpayers to do it themselves.

According to the government, life for ordinary citizens will be also more comfortable thanks to new expressways.

Not everybody is impressed by the ambitious plans. Opposition politicians have attacked Tusk for what they say are promises the government cannot keep.

According to critics, the government is mainly interested in improving its poor ratings in the polls ahead of this year’s European Parliament and local authority elections. Trade unions are just as critical. According to Piotr Duda, the leader of the Solidarity union, Tusk lacks credibility when he says hiring workers on “trash contracts” needs to end—just two months ago, the government opposed such a move, arguing that it would have a devastating effect on public coffers. “You can see that the election campaign has begun,” said Duda.

Andrzej Ratajczyk
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