Economic Studies
Poland

Poland

Population 38.0 million
GDP per capita 14,411 US$ billion
A3
Country risk assessment
A2
Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2013 2014 2015  2016(f)
GDP growth (%) 1.3 3.3 3.6 3.4
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 0.8 0.1 -0.7 -0.2
Budget balance (% GDP) -4.0 -3.3 -2.6 -3.0
Current account balance (% GDP) -1.3 -2.0 -0.3 0.6
Public debt (% GDP) 56.0 50.5 51.3 52.5

 

(f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Market of 38 million inhabitants
  • Close to Western European markets
  • Price-competitiveness/qualified and inexpensive workforce
  • Integrated into German production chain
  • Primary beneficiary of European structural funds
  • Diversified economy (agriculture, various industries, services)
  • Resilient financial sector
  • Coal resources

WEAKNESSES

  • Insufficient investment / insufficient domestic savings
  • Low levels of research and development
  • Development in the eastern regions lagging behind
  • Rigid labour market favouring the shadow economy estimated at 23%
  • High level of structural unemployment and low employment rate for women
  • Lack of competition
  • Low birth rate

RISK ASSESSMENT

Vigorous consumption and exportations despite uncertainties

In spite of a 0.1% GDP decline in the first quarter of 2016, growth should remain high in 2016. The dynamism of consumption will persist, supported by a 6% increase in the minimum wage in 2016, and the introduction of new allowance for families with at least two children (low-income families are entitled to the allowance also for one child). Exports (cars, machineries, domestic appliances, consumer electronics, agro-food, furniture, ships, building components) are still on an upward trend (1.2% increase between January and July 2016). Moreover, imports have decreased, along the same period, due to the weakness of the zloty. However, a strengthening of the zloty appears to occur since mid- August 2016 with an appreciation of more than 1% vis-à-vis the euro. This reversal is due to the search by investors of higher-yielding assets, such as Polish bonds. If this appreciation continues, the likelihood of deflation is strong for the remainder of 2016, which should support private consumption. By contrast, investment felt by 1.5 % during Q1 2016 due to the transition between two European funding programs. Investors may remain cautious faced with uncertainty regarding the Brexit and some initiatives initiated by the new government from the conservative Law and Justice Party (sectoral taxes, overhaul of the pension system). Brexit effects were felt the day after the referendum results were released, with the zloty depreciating 3.5% vis-à-vis the dollar. Indeed, United-Kingdom and Poland have a strong business relationship: 7% of polish exports go to the British island (around 2.5% of GDP). Moreover, 800,000 polishes currently work there, among which half would be able to claim for British nationality in accordance with British current legislation. Finally, Poland is the country benefiting most from EU structural funds (82.5 billion euros between 2014 and 2020, that is 46.4% of the budget dedicated to Central Europe), thus it could suffer from the impact of the British departure on European budgets. Moreover, reform aimed at converting in domestic currency housing loans denominated in Swiss francs which was initiated by the previous government, but postponed until 2017, could weigh on credit. So far the cost for banks of the law expected to be introduced soon and focusing on the repayment of excessive exchange rate spreads is estimated at 1/3 of their profits in 2015,

 

An expansionist fiscal policy could undermine public accounts

The public deficit should widen slightly in 2016. Indeed, government expenditures are likely to rise with the increase of the income tax exemption threshold and the implementation of “Family500+”, new child benefit program, for which the estimated cost is around 0.9% of GDP. Moreover, the increase in payroll is likely to continue with the increase of the minimum wage. In addition, government plans to reform the pension system by lowering the age of retirement and encouraging polish to transfer their private savings from private funds (OFE) to either a Worker’s Capital Plan (PPK) or an individual retirement account (IKE) managed by the state insurer, PZU. However, government also plans to finance those expenditures with additional earnings: tax on banks (0.44 % of assets) that are 60% held by foreigners and tax on distribution groups having a turnover of more than 1.5 million, also mostly held by foreign interests.

 

External accounts almost balanced

The balance in the trade of goods is oscillating around equilibrium, while the services balance shows a slight surplus (of about 2% of GDP) thanks to tourism and international road transport, just like remittances resulting from the increased presence of Polish workers in Western Europe. By contrast, the income of investment balance is running a deficit. The slight current account deficit is amply funded by European structural funds, while new foreign direct investments contribute the equivalent of 2% of GDP, bearing a witness of the country's involvement in the European production chain. External debt represents about 70% of GDP. 43% of the total corresponds to government liabilities, 40% to business liabilities and the remainder to banks’ liabilities to their parent companies. Over half is denominated in euros.

 

Tension between the government and the European Commission

Following the adoption of the law dealing with the Statute of the Tribunal Polish Constitutional Government by the Polish parliament on July 22nd, the European Commission adopted a recommendation on July 27 in which it sets out its concerns about the maintenance of the rule of law and makes corrective recommendations. If Poland does not take into account those recommendations within three months, the Commission may adopt sanctions against Poland under the Article 7 of the EU Treaty that would block the voting rights of Poland in the European institutions. 

 

Last update : July 2016

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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