Polish institutions are not particularly concerned with reasonable and cautious spending of taxpayers’ money. Therefore, when I hear officials argue that the institution they represent is doing all it can to ensure that not even a złoty of public money goes to waste, I can reliably predict what will follow – and who, according to this narrative, is guilty of wastefulness. Clearly not officials – they heroically protect state money against money-hungry entrepreneurs – President of Employers of Poland Andrzej Malinowski writes in “Rzeczpospolita”.
According to Malinowski, similarly to PRL propaganda, for many officials in the III RP private entrepreneurs are suspect. – However, if one wants to harshly admonish others for their sins, one better be beyond any accusation. Otherwise one might be disgraced, as the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways has recently discovered – he remarks.
The President of Employers of Poland emphasizes that although the Directorate is formally under the Minister of Infrastructure, it has managed to acquire a position strong enough to veto many reasonable propositions. An example of this is the case of the program for digital fare collection for passenger vehicles on highways, initiated when Donald Tusk was the PM.
For years, the Directorate has built a reputation as a tormentor of unlawful construction companies who cause excessive valuation and want to squeeze as much as possible form the state.
Officials refused to accept that the costs of constructing a highway cannot be increased or cut by several dozen percent on a whim – the profit margin is low and the construction materials do have their price as well. The voice of entrepreneurs was also ignored when they argued that contractors should not be left with an ultimatum: either accept our conditions or go to court – which resulted in delayed or suspended investments.
The reputation of the Directorate was destroyed by a report of the Supreme Audit Office, which revealed flagrant conflicts of interest – employees of regional departments worked for companies which won tenders announced by the departments in question. – I really encourage you to read the report, though it is quite shocking. Public institutions are inherently exposed to various pathologies. There is no political system that could eliminate this threat – writes Malinowski.
In his opinion, the risk of these phenomena occurring is bigger if the institution in question is patronizing towards entrepreneurs and citizens. – Maybe the fact that Poles are increasingly outspoken in demanding serious changes in the state’s functioning should serve as an opportunity to reflect on whether the current models of managing roads and road investments should be changed. This is self-evident, but I dream of an effective and transparent model, which first and foremost secure the respect for citizens – including the terrible private entrepreneurs mentioned above – a key feature of democracy – summarizes the President of Employers of Poland.