Economic studies
Poland

Poland

Population 38.0 million
GDP per capita 12,361 US$ billion
A3
Country risk assessment
A2
Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

Main economic indicators 2015 2016 2017(f) 2018(f)
GDP growth (%) 3.9 2.9 4.3 3.6
Inflation (yearly average, %) -0.7 -0.2 1.9 2.3
Budget balance (% GDP) -2.6 -2.4 -2.5 -2.7
Current account balance (% GDP) 0.1 0.2 -0.6 -1.2
Public debt (% GDP) 51.1 54.4 54.6 55.2

(f): forecast

 

SECTOR RISK ASSESSMENTS

PologneEN

STRENGTHS

  • Market of 38 million people
  • Proximity to West European markets
  • Price competitiveness / qualified and cheap labour force
  • Integrated into the German production chain
  • Leading beneficiary of European structural funds
  • Diversified economy (agriculture, variety of industries, services)
  • Resilient financial sector
  • Coal reserves

WEAKNESSES

  • Inadequate level of investment / Domestic savings rate too low
  • Weakness in R&D
  • Developmental lag of Eastern regions
  • Rigidity of the labour market encouraging informal economy
  • Structural unemployment and low level of female employment

RISK ASSESSMENT

The growth peak has been passed

Although Poland is expected to record a solid growth rate in 2018, it will likely be a slower expansion than that of 2017. A rebound of investments experienced last year was gradual. This has so far been predominantly fuelled by higher public investments, especially at the municipal level.

Household consumption remains the main growth driver, thanks to the buoyant labour market. The unemployment rate is the lowest in 27 years, wages are set to keep growing at fair rates, the central bank’s rate is at its lowest point in history, and consumer sentiment indicators have broken new heights. Exports (automobiles, machines, white goods, consumer electronics, food and furniture) are expected to benefit from the continued recovery in global trade and higher demand in the country’s leading markets (Eurozone countries). However, as imports – driven by increased consumption – will increase faster than exports, the contribution from foreign trade to growth is likely to be negative.

Although the labour market situation is beneficial for households, companies have perceived it as a constraint. Labour shortages have become a barrier in current business activity and its further expansion, and have been reported by an increasing number of companies across all sectors. A lack of workforce is especially evident in the construction sector, which means that its gradual recovery is likely to be limited. The tightness of the labour market will continue to affect businesses in Poland, and it remains one of factors making a further boost of growth impossible. In addition, the insolvency law enacted in 2016 has favoured the increase in business insolvencies in 2017.

Social measures are expected to widen the budget deficit

After having narrowed to 2.4% in 2016 – its lowest level since 2007 – the general government deficit has remained stable in 2017, supported by reduced investment activity of public entities in a period of switching to a current EU financial perspective. Although improved tax collection has brought sizeable and positive effects to the Polish budget balance, this has been offset by costly social measures, such as child benefits and the lowering of the statutory retirement age in 2017. An extension of higher VAT rates’ validity has generated additional revenues, but the government is likely to look to implement further measures. The introduction of the retail distribution tax, revised downwards under pressure from the European Commission, was initially delayed until 2018 and then to 2019. The government has also expressed intent to abolish the upper limit on pension contributions and therefore increase revenues of the Social Security Fund. Nevertheless, the public deficit is not likely to break the 3% threshold, and avoiding falling within the remit of the European Excessive Deficit Procedure remains a priority.

Deterioration of the political and social situation

The conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party won a majority of seats in the Sejm (the lower house of Polish parliament) in the legislative elections of October 2015, with 37.6% of votes, ahead of Civic Platform, the main opposition party. Its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, gave the post of Prime Minister to Beata Szydło – moderate in image, but with significant influence over the government agenda. Since taking office, the PiS conducted a series of disputable reforms that have undermined the country’s democratic institutions and worsened the relationship with the EU. The European Commission has triggered Article 7 of the Union Treaty which could provide for the suspension of certain rights, including the right to vote, in case of a clear risk of serious violation of the rule of law. Such actions have also generated social discontent within segments of the population, and have polarized public opinion. In December 2017 Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who had been in charge of finance and development policy, was nominated to become the Prime Minister, replacing Beata Szydło. The switch has not yet resulted in a change of political or economic course of the government.

Although the current government has successful achieved a higher collectability of taxes, the political climate is relatively gloomy. It has contributed to a higher level of uncertainty compared to previous years, and has also affected investors’ attitudes. On the other hand, stable fundamentals, the Polish integration into Western European chains, and attractive yields have convinced foreign entities to not withdraw their investments from Poland. Nevertheless, the increased volatility of exchange rates confirmed that political instability and policy deterioration have worsened the external perception of Poland. 

 

Last update : January 2018

Payment

 

Standard bills of exchange and cheques are not widely used, as they must meet a number of formal issuing requirements in order to be valid.

Nevertheless, for dishonoured and protested bills and cheques, creditors may resort to a fast-track procedure resulting in an injunction to pay.

However one kind of bill of exchange is commonly used - it is thewekselin blanco, an incomplete promissory note bearing only the term "weksel" and the issuer’s signature at the time of issue.

The signature constitutes an irrevocable promise to pay and this undertaking is enforceable upon completion of the promissory note (amount, place and date of payment) in accordance with a prior agreement between issuer and beneficiary.

Wekselsin blancoare widely used, as they also constitute a guarantee of payment in commercial agreements and the rescheduling of payments.

 

Cash payments were commonly used in Poland by individuals and firms alike, but under the “Freedom of business activity Act” (Ustawa o swobodzie działalności gospodarczej), of 2 July 2004, which came into force on 21st August 2004, companies are required to make settlements via bank accounts for any transaction exceeding the equivalent in złotys of 15,000 Euros even when payable in several instalments.

 

This measure aims to counter fraudulent money laundering.

 

Bank transfers have become the most widely used payment method. Leading Polish banks – after an initial phase of privatisation and a second phase of concentration – use the SWIFT network, which offers a cheap, flexible and quick domestic and international funds transfer service.

 

Debt collection

 

Standard court procedure can be also fast and effective when creditor can provide documents from which clearly shows the amount of debt and the confirmation of delivery of the goods (or the proper performance of services) – especially documents approved (signed) by the debtor.

Court issues an order of payment which states that debtor should pay amount of debt in two weeks or set an written argue (in the same period of time). When order of payment is not argued and becomes enforceable court gives back ¾ of court fee paid by creditor with lawsuit (5% of the amount in dispute).

However in standard procedure it is quite easy for defendant to postpone the case. When defendant argues at the order of payment in this kind of procedure than it can take a long time before final verdict due to the lack of judges and large number of cases held in courts.

 

Since the term of limitation for receivables arising from a merchandise sales contract, and any ensuing past-due interest, is only two years, suppliers should exercise extreme vigilance.

 

From 1st January 2004, interest may be claimed as of the 31st day following delivery of the product or service, even where the parties have agreed to a longer payment time. The legal interest rate will apply from the 31st day until the contractual payment date.

Thereafter, in case of late payment, the tax penalty rate will apply and it will very often be higher than the legal interest rate, unless the contracting parties have agreed on a higher interest rate.

 

A Bill to implement the directive 2011/7/EU of 16 February 2011 on “combating late payment in commercial transactions” provides between the contracting parties a maximum payment term of 60 days. Similarly, default interest will be due the day after the deadline, without the need for a formal notice.

 

Implementing EU Directive, Poland introduced new rules regarding compensation for payment default in commercial transactions. The Act (Ustawa z dnia 8 marca 2013 r. o terminach zapłaty w transakcjach handlowych (Dz.U. 2013 nr 0 poz. 403)) imposed on debtors to pay the costs of recovery when the payment term expires. This amount is 40 euros - lump sum and it is possible to demand a larger amount if the costs of recovery will prove to be higher.

 

It is also advisable to seek an out-of-court settlement based on a payment schedule drawn up by a public notary, which includes anenforcement clausethat allows creditors, in the event of default by the debtor, to go directly to the enforcement stage, subject to acknowledgement by the court of the binding nature of this document.

 

Creditors may seek an injunction to pay (nakaz zaplaty) via a fast-track and less expensive procedure, provided they produce positive proof of debt (like unpaid bills of exchange, unpaid cheques orwekselsin blanco, or else acknowledgements of debt). If the judge is not convinced of the substance of the claim – a decision he alone is empowered to make – he may refer the case to full trial.

 

Since 1st January 2010, when the claims are certain, the district court of Lublin has jurisdiction throughout the country, to handle electronic injunctions to pay.

The clerk of the court examines the merits of the application, to which is attached the list of the available evidence, then, with its electronic signature, he validates the ruling granting the injunction to pay.

This procedure appeared to be fast, economic and flexible but it turned out that it can be quite opposite due to enormous amount of cases which are conducted.

 

Ordinary proceedings are partly in writing with the parties filing submissions accompanied by all supporting case documents (original or certified copies) and partly oral with the litigants, their lawyers, and their witnesses heard on the main hearing date.

 

At such legal proceedings, the judge is required, as far as possible, to attempt conciliation between the parties.

 

Although each party bears his own legal costs incurred in the course of the proceedings, after making a ruling the court will generally require the losing party to bear most of the cost of the procedure.

 

Commercial disputes are generally heard by the economic courts (sąd gospodarczy), falling under the jurisdiction of either district courts (sąd rejonowy) or regional courts (sąd okręgowy), depending on the value of the claim.

 

*It is important to be noted that in 2016 the new regulation on bankruptcy proceedings enters into force. It is called restructuring law and will be based on two basic principles: protecting the legitimate rights of the debtor and the rules of dominance group (collective) interests of the creditors. The purpose of the Act is to be at the same time to avoid declaring bankruptcy by debtor and allowing him to restructure through an arrangement with creditors, and in the case of the rehabilitation proceedings also by carrying out the remedial action, whilst safeguarding the legitimate rights of creditors.

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