Prof. Aleksander SURDEJ: Economy in the Perspective of Long Duration

Economy in the Perspective of Long Duration

Photo of Prof. Aleksander SURDEJ

Prof. Aleksander SURDEJ

Polish Ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Professor at the Cracow University of Economics.

Ryc.Fabien Clairefond

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Nations with a long history treat economy as a tool for strengthening the community, and see community values as a source of lasting prosperity.

.After a long period of political and economic subordination to foreign states, Poland in the early 1990s embarked on a relatively autonomous path of development, one that gives its citizens a sense of material success and the certainty it is a wisely corrected direction, while the state control instruments: currency, taxes, and regulations remain at the hands of the Polish government and are properly applied.

Poland’s economic success is seen not only through OECD indicators, according to which Poland’s GDP per capita is already higher than in several Mediterranean countries of the EU. It is even more noticeable for those who left the materially ruined country at the end of the 1980s and revisited it after less than three decades – to see, sometimes to their surprise, elegant shops, renovated tenement houses, new roads, and well-groomed people.

In nominal terms, it is true that an employee of the Fiat plant in Tychy still earns one third less than his Italian counterpart from near Naples. Empirical analyzes show, however, that it is the employee in Poland who has greater purchasing power and enjoys a higher quality of life than his south European peer.

Poland’s economic development has not been achieved at the expense of excessive increase in economic inequalities in both the social and territorial dimensions. The Gini coefficient remains at the level of European averages, and the interregional development differences are not drastic as Polish small towns are extremely resilient economically. Moreover, Poland has not become a deindustrialized country since the share of industry in Poland’s GDP is closer to that of Germany than that of France.

In a market economy, the basic factor of development are well-organized and well-managed enterprises. With the end of the socialist economy, there was a “surge of entrepreneurship” in Poland. On average, newly established enterprises in Poland are still smaller than companies in Western European countries, but new communication technologies enable them to effectively compete on domestic and foreign markets. It should come as no surprise today that Polish entrepreneurs take over companies in France, Germany or the UK; they do so to improve and develop these companies, to provide jobs and create income for their host country, for themselves, and for Poland.

Europe’s economic history shows that errors in economic policy can have negative consequences for decades or even be irrevocable. The Polish government is aware that the decisions currently taken with regard to energy, new technologies, and labor markets will affect the people’s standard of living and, perhaps, the future of the national community. Investments in renewable and clean energy sources are prepared so as to protect the environment and prevent energy prices from rising. Large-scale undertakings in the field of wind and nuclear energy will be realized in such a way that Polish companies can participate in them as partners, and employees can earn decent wages and acquire even higher qualifications.

To maintain a standard of living, an aging society has to choose between a massive influx of immigrants or “Japanization.” Polish companies opt for digitization, automation and robotization. In the industrial production sector, there is no need to look for low-skilled workers for routine work as robots can perform it. In various types of services, from health to administration, the use of artificial intelligence tools and robots also reduces the demand for labor. This direction of development is promoted in Poland’s innovation policy and is considered necessary by entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens.

Poland is not a lonely island. Polish governments, businesses, and citizens are aware of international, regional, and global interdependencies and the need to cooperate to protect European and global common goods. The lessons of the past have taught us to respect the principle of partnership and fair sharing of costs and benefits.

Aleksander Surdej

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