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The following is the Executive summary of the OECD assessment and recommendations, taken from the Economic Survey of Poland, published on 8 April 2010.
Poland’s economic performance in 2009 was strong, given the global downturn. Although excess demand was substantial prior to the crisis, the external imbalance was modest relative to some neighbours’ and contagion was contained. Macro policy responses to the slowdown were largely appropriate, and the sharp depreciation of the zloty cushioned the impact of the foreign shock, but contributed to the postponement of euro adoption. The slowdown even cooled off residual inflationary pressure, while the swift turnaround in wages helped limit job losses. A number of issues should be addressed, however, to strengthen Poland’s position in a globalising world and ensure sustainable growth, given the prospects of future euro adoption, persistently large EU transfers and desirable inflows of foreign direct investment.
The risks of a boom in the medium term are growing. Poland has become the largest recipient of EU cohesion funds, with EU transfers set to reach an annual average of 3.3% of GDP in the coming years. Combined with the impact of large inward FDI inflows, there are widespread high growth expectations, but destabilisation risks, especially as euro adoption prospects are likely to induce a sharp fall in the cost of capital. Macro policies should rely on a precise, forward looking assessment of all the implications of such a combination and be used pro actively to head off any nascent imbalances. Heightened credit demand and supply might also be contained by tighter prudential regulation.
Fiscal discipline must be restored. The 2003 08 economic expansion was not used to improve the structural budget balance, though early retirement pensions were slashed. Recent cuts in the tax wedge, welcome as such, were, however, not totally compensated and thus initially pro cyclical. The cyclical and structural worsening of the fiscal position together threatens the constitution’s public debt threshold. Consolidating public finance should be achieved by broadening the tax base; reducing the generosity of support to farmers; extending the retirement age, especially for women; further diminishing early retirement; saving on disability benefits; and improving public administration efficiency. At the same time, progress in pension reform should be preserved and consistency between the domestic and Maastricht definitions of the public debt ensured. The January 2010 consolidation plan includes some of these features as general proposals, but its effectiveness will depend on an early implementation of concrete measures.
The ground for euro adoption must be prepared. The euro would speed convergence only under an appropriate institutional framework. Developing the capacity to stabilise the economy once monetary and exchange rate policies are abandoned is the priority. Fiscal policy should be based on both a general government structural deficit rule and a multi year nominal expenditure rule, with the creation of an independent fiscal council assessing and monitoring its effectiveness. Product markets should be made more responsive to shocks through more efficient utilities regulation, downsizing public ownership and easing regulation in retail distribution and professional services. The minimum wage should not be increased relative to the average wage but be differentiated across regions, based on local labour market conditions. Labour mobility should be fostered by further deepening the rental market for housing and developing urban zoning plans.
Broad structural reforms are needed to benefit more extensively from globalisation. Poland has made impressive progress in developing international economic linkages. Yet much remains to be done to attract foreign investors, absorb FDI efficiently and improve export performance. The role of the state should be reduced through a transparent process of privatisation and a faster removal of administrative burdens. Infrastructure needs to be modernised, especially for transportation and broadband Internet. The innovation system should be beefed up by better matching demand and supply for skills, greater competition between higher education institutions and more support for commercial R&D. The foreign investment agency’s power should be strengthened and export promotion efforts streamlined. Financial development could be enhanced through consolidation of the co operative banks and improvement in the legal framework for collateral. Finally, support policies for small and medium sized firms should be rationalised.
How to obtain this publication
The Policy Brief (pdf format) can be downloaded in English. It contains the OECD assessment and recommendations
The complete edition of the Economic Survey of Poland is available from:
For further information please contact the Poland Desk at the OECD Economics Department at email@example.com.
The OECD Secretariat's report was prepared by Hervé Boulhol and Rafal Kierzenkowski under the supervision of Peter Jarrett. Research assistance was provided by Patrizio Sicari.