The Warsaw Voice » Other » Monthly - March 5, 2008
The Silesia Voice
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New Marshal Takes the Reins
Bogusław Śmigielski, marshal of Silesia Province, talks to Jarosław Szymonowicz.


Bogusław Śmigielski is 50, married, with two children. He lives in Jaworzno, a town halfway between Katowice and Cracow. An ear, nose and throat specialist by profession, his first job was at the Jaworzno Municipal Hospital, where he went on to become deputy ward head. He was subsequently appointed vice-president of a non-public health center in Jaworzno. A Jaworzno town councilor from 1998, today he is a Silesia Province councilor for a third term. He was elected marshal of Silesia Province on Jan. 12.

"Focusing on development, we cannot act conservatively, avoiding bold projects and modern concepts," was how you described your mission just after your election, at your first press conference. What are your specific goals?

Undoubtedly the priority of the newly elected Province Board is the organization of Euro 2012, including completing the modernization of Silesian Stadium. Euro 2012 is a huge opportunity for the region's development and promotion, one that we must not waste. In late December 2007 the Silesia Province Marshal's Office sent out inquiries to leading European firms about designing a roof for the stadium. The first talks with their representatives have been held.

The best possible use of European Union funds is a very important task. At present Silesia Province is the only province in Poland to have announced competitions as part of the Regional Operational Program. Implementation of the Human Capital Operational Program is also proceeding according to schedule. Competitions have been announced to provide supplementary funding for projects aiming to upgrade the qualifications of education staff and projects serving integration of local communities. Substantial interest from prospective beneficiaries of the program is a good sign that these funds will be used effectively.

Due to my professional interests, I would also like to mention the government program called "Sports Field in My Commune." We estimate that about 40 sports fields will be set up in our region this year. We plan to set aside the necessary funds in our budget.

I have mentioned just three of the main tasks, but the list of priorities is much longer: ending the administration's powerlessness with regard to modernization and construction of provincial roads, implementing a new regional promotion strategy, taking over the competence of the Silesian Province Office, bringing order to the ownership structure of companies accountable to the province local government, and so on. These are serious challenges that will require the modern solutions and bold decisions I mentioned earlier.

Will the shorter term in office not be a barrier to carrying out this wide range of tasks?

I don't see any such threat because many things were started a year ago and we will continue them. However, I am counting on the work accelerating, and support for the Province Board from councilors of the wide coalition will be helpful in this.

Silesia province is special not only because of its high urbanization, industrialization and extremely rapid development, but also its great diversity of sub-regions. How can these assets be used to good effect?

Silesia has lived in the shadow of the coal mines, but that's history. Today the symbol of the region should be not a lump of coal but a car factory assembly line. The greatest income is generated by the automotive industry, followed by metallurgy, with mining coming third. The region's great diversity is the province's huge asset, attesting to its cultural wealth and attractiveness to tourists.

Apart from the industrialized cities of the Silesian conurbation, the Podbeskidzie region is developing well, attracting thousands of tourists to the beauty of the Beskidy Mountains. Częstochowa, on the other hand, has huge potential linked to the Jasna Góra monastery and the millions of pilgrims who visit it every year. In other words, the region's potential is spread relatively evenly over a large area. The challenge for the Province Board is to support those sub-regional programs that will strengthen local potential, contributing to faster development. These certainly include plans to build and modernize roads as well as expansion of the tourist infrastructure.