23 priorities from the Entrepreneurship Council to the government
A strong economy is the foundation of a country's strength, its ability to bear social expenses, its negotiating position in diplomacy, military capabilities, and the basis of national security. The growth of the economy cannot rely solely on increased labor utilization due to demographic reasons, as the workforce is projected to shrink from over 22 million to below 16 million by 2050. We must focus on increasing labor productivity, investments, and innovations, which are essential for improving the well-being of Poles and the growth of Poland's strength and security, depending on entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneurship Council, as the strongest representation of business communities in Poland, identifies the following priorities to sustain development and not squander the developmental opportunity facing our country.
Health protection should be a government priority, necessary for the socio-economic development of the country and ensuring the health security of citizens. It is essential to increase funding for the healthcare sector, implement mechanisms ensuring the growth of expenditures, their responsible and efficient allocation, as well as transparent and planned spending. Improving preventive care (utilizing all medical professions, including pharmacists) and the efficiency of preventive measures against lifestyle diseases are crucial. The healthcare system should focus on patient needs, treatment outcomes, quality, and access to new technologies. The implementation of solutions based on Value-Based Healthcare, following new European guidelines, is advocated, where healthcare providers are rewarded for achieving specific health outcomes in patients.
Repairing Relations with the EU
Consistent and active participation in the common EU project is advocated. Poland's strength and security stem from wise alliances where influence on allies' policies is maintained, and through unity, we become stronger, less isolated, and vulnerable. A priority is the immediate revision and unlocking of the Rule of Law Mechanism for Poland, and proper consideration of socio-economic partners in planning and monitoring its implementation. Ensuring cohesion funds for Poland from a new perspective is critical. The government should support and promote the EU single market, facilitate the expansion of Polish companies in the EU, fight against protectionism, and interveneism by stronger EU states. Effective presence in the EU means obtaining real influence on EU strategy, priorities, directives, and regulations.
Uncertainty is an economic silent killer, discouraging education, planning, having children, and companies from investing. Surprises lead to frustration, dramas, and traumas. Economic policy should be conducted in a way that even regularly occurring crises cannot undermine the stability and security of the country. Avoiding increased uncertainty through abrupt regulatory changes for political or cyclical reasons or bad economic policies is crucial. Predictability involves a preference for the continuity of state action in important social and economic areas, such as maintaining family support programs or a serious substantive analysis before rejecting flagship projects of the previous government.
Private entrepreneurs are essential and positive participants in a healthy economy. The state and its institutions should not create a negative image of private business or harm the positive image of businesses. Negative language that fosters hostility, resentment, and envy should be avoided. Entrepreneurs require certain regulations and state supervision, and any pathologies should be condemned and addressed. Entrepreneurship, economic freedom, and initiative are the foundations of progress, modernity, and prosperity that should not be undermined or questioned.
A wise government listens to social needs before making decisions. Actions contrary to these voices are possible but should not occur without understanding the arguments, views of social partners, including citizens and entrepreneurs. Quality, order, stability, and respect for legal regulations are forged through dialogue. The culture of demand and the use of feedback are the foundations of good governance.
Clear laws created following the principles of good legislation, considering the costs and benefits of actions, broad financial and social effects of regulations, discussed with social partners, and incorporating valuable feedback from them, are the foundation of citizens' and entrepreneurs' sense of security. Following procedures, basing them on analyses and evidence, a planned legislative process, and wise legislation increase the stability and predictability of the law, opening the way to deregulation, which should be a constant process involving government and business, serving simplification and the elimination of unnecessary regulations.
Restoring the Role and Respect for Public Institutions
Meritocracy in public service, respect for state officials expressed by leaving space for action and refraining from imposing tasks or political priorities, depoliticization, and effective fulfillment of mandates, performing statutory tasks by public institutions such as the National Bank of Poland, the Financial Supervision Authority, and the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection are advocated. The State Tribunal should be used wherever a breach of dignity and neglect of duties has occurred. Fair and efficient common courts, a short path to legally binding and just judgments for citizens and businesses, and respect for the independence of media, including public media, are emphasized.
Transparent Public Finances, Restoring the Role of the Budget and the Minister of Finance
Managing state finances through the state budget, for which the Minister of Finance is responsible, and subjecting the spending of institutions such as funds and special-purpose companies (e.g., Polish Development Fund, Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego) to social and parliamentary control are proposed. Responsibility and oversight of the Minister of Finance over the expenditures and debt of these entities, as well as decision-making authority for the Minister of Finance if the debt guarantees the State Treasury, are called for.
Responsible and Farsighted Economic Policy
We appeal for the implementation of new actions and responsibilities by the state, considering their costs and the need to service the debt associated with emerging deficits. Intelligent regulation, taking into account long-term effects, is crucial, especially in areas such as the pension system, social insurance, the tax system, and the labor market. Each of these areas requires a separate focus, involving a thorough public debate and restraint in the pursuit of rapid change.
Creating conditions for the stable functioning of the financial sector as a necessary source of economic financing
One of the key conditions for the proper allocation of capital in the economy is access to external financing through the broader utilization of financial resources accumulated by financial institutions. To enable them to fulfill their role properly, it is essential to create appropriate legal conditions for their operation. This includes improving the observance of long-term contracts by counterparties, rationalizing the level of fiscal burdens on financial institutions, and coordinating with economic partners on the preferred model of financing, including the use of fixed and variable interest rates and credit security measures.
Investments and Innovations
We advocate for a roundtable discussion between the government and the business environment to encourage companies to engage in investment and innovation activities. The low investment rate and the unfavorable state of Polish innovation indicate the need for concrete actions. These actions should aim to eliminate barriers to investment, boost positive motivation, reduce uncertainty, and prioritize potential public support for these specific goals. Effectively leveraging technological startups could significantly strengthen the innovation potential of the economy. It is necessary to build a cohesive and efficient startup investment ecosystem that facilitates global expansion. Diplomacy supporting economic competitiveness in the region and attracting foreign direct investments characterized by innovation and strategic alignment with economic development is crucial. Additionally, creating a favorable climate for reinvestment is important.
Modern Energy Policy
Unrestricted access to energy at moderate prices is critical for the economy as a whole, individual citizens, and businesses. For businesses, access to non-emissive energy is particularly pressing. The means required for the energy transformation are substantial and cannot be solely funded by entities traditionally involved in energy production and distribution. Financing transformation through additional taxes or levies on energy users would be economically destructive. The transformation and its financing should widely leverage the ability of citizens and businesses to invest in energy production, management, and storage. The transformation should also make extensive use of distributed energy generation close to consumption points, promoting efficiency and security in energy use.
Business Activity within Regulation. First and foremost: Competitiveness!
The EU imposes a fairly tight regulatory framework for businesses. We propose limiting local, Polish legislative overproduction, reducing and simplifying existing regulations, and focusing on intelligent co-creation of EU regulations by Polish authorities with the involvement of Polish social and economic partners. Implementation of EU regulations should be proportional and avoid overregulation, similar to other EU countries, with the goal of maximizing the competitiveness of Polish businesses in the EU and beyond. Efforts should shift from negotiating delays in the implementation of directive provisions to negotiating them at the EU level before they come into effect.
We propose initiating consultations, agreements, and actions to increase the professional activity of Poles. In the context of a declining working-age population, this will be a crucial tool for maintaining economic potential. Among young people, promoting employment and encouraging residence in the country is valuable. For individuals aged 50 and above, especially women, supporting professional activity, particularly through tax reduction, is important. Care responsibilities are a critical reason for Poles' professional inactivity. State involvement in the care of older, sick, disabled individuals, as well as a broader approach to childcare and the safe and creative organization of their extracurricular time, are methods to release a significant resource for the labor market.
Poland's migration policy should focus on hospitality towards newcomers willing to integrate culturally, linguistically, adhere to legal and social norms, and assimilate as full-fledged citizens of our country. This requires attracting and selecting candidates in the global market, which will be characterized by intense competition for migrants, given demographic challenges faced by most countries, including developed ones. Urgent action is needed to agree upon and implement a migration policy, break away from visa pathologies, and build a positive image of Poland as a welcoming country for honest, hardworking individuals willing to integrate.
The 500+ program has not improved fertility. It is worth initiating consultations and implementing policies that effectively address this problem. Depopulation, affecting the social structure, the efficiency of pension benefits, and the overall Polish economy, needs to be tackled through systematic policies. An interdisciplinary team, supported by experts from various fields, should be established to integrate actions taken by various institutions to achieve synergy.
Universal education providing modern, ideology-free knowledge, building social competencies, a culture of mutual respect, and a sense of self-worth is crucial. The restoration of the proper status and popularization of vocational education, the rebuilding of technical schools, and the promotion of higher vocational education are necessary. Lifelong learning, promoting upskilling, enhancing competencies, and career change for those expressing such needs are also important. Support for the national education system, combating the emphasis on points in favor of quality, derived from the practical use of scientific research in business, should be prioritized. Promoting collaboration between vocational schools and universities with entrepreneurs is crucial. Increased funding for the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR) is justified, contingent on real integration of scientific activities with innovative processes in the real business sector. Adequate funding for education and higher education, including the salaries of teachers and academic staff reflecting their contribution to national development, is essential. Selection of the best should be emphasized, rather than accepting anyone.
Environmentally Friendly State and Economy
Seizing the opportunities offered by broad regulatory and financial support for a groundbreaking, pro-ecological transformation of the economy and society is crucial. This includes stopping the blockade and destabilization of the renewable energy market, dynamic development of energy efficiency to reduce the high mortality rate due to air and water pollution in Poland. Building public awareness and discontinuing campaigns with false stereotypes that coal is good and renewables are bad are essential.
Market Utilization and Regulation Instead of Central Planning and Official Prices
Market price mechanisms serve to adjust demand and supply to changing market conditions. Even when state intervention in the market is necessary, it should be as brief as possible and disturb market participants' motivations as little as possible. For example, electricity should not have centrally managed prices, and the statutory regulation of producers' margins should be avoided.
Corruption, nepotism, theft, and exploitation are phenomena that should be condemned and eliminated from political, social, and economic life. A fair state that avoids collective judgments and unilateral assessments is expected. Individuals engaging in pathology should lose influence over important national affairs through a legally binding court decision. The prolonged temporary detention that has become a systemic problem in Poland should be eliminated. The highest standards and a zero-tolerance policy toward such behaviors should characterize the state leadership environment.
Promoting Bottom-Up Initiatives of Citizens, Entrepreneurs, Local Governments
The essence of a democratic rule of law is to leave room for bottom-up, non-governmental, local, and entrepreneurial initiatives. State encroachment on public space should occur where necessary, not just where possible. Continued support for non-governmental organizations, restoring autonomy and funding for local governments, and respecting the autonomy of entrepreneurs are expected.
Firstly, we expect an effective, well-organized state, especially in areas internationally dominated by public entities or strongly regulated, such as health, education, judiciary, external and internal security, and energy. Only then should there be a discussion about the potential expansion of state institutions into areas where private entities worldwide have successfully operated.
In addition to pro-development and social expenditures, there should be a place in Poland for ensuring the safety of citizens. Physical security is the foundation of a healthy economy, and its provision is possible even in countries facing a permanent threat of conflict, such as South Korea or formerly West Germany. In the current geopolitical context, entrepreneurs support the full commitment of state resources to ensuring the strength and defense of the country in military, counter-terrorism, and hybrid warfare dimensions, both externally and internally, including cybersecurity.