According to the Employers of Poland, the year 2014 will bring a strengthening of the economic upturn. Domestic consumption demand and investments should gradually become the main contributors to GDP growth, taking over from net export.
Economy and public finances
Continued uncertain situation in the eurozone will still be the biggest threat for Polish economy. Although the member states of the European monetary union managed to break out of a 1,5 years of recession, signs of serious problems have reemerged.
Employers of Poland expect the new Minister of Finance not to continue his predecessors fiscal policy. The announced commencement of works on substituting the Tax Ordinance with the Taxpayers Rights' Code will not yield any positive results, the Ministry does not abandon its earlier legislative projects harmful for entrepreneurs.
2014 will be a difficult year for Polish public finances. The effects of previous years' activities have, for the most part, been wasted – largely due to the budget amendment based mostly on increasing the deficit. Further increase in taxes would be the worst possible step, which would not solve the problem anyway – increasing the scope of fiscalism would only hamper the economic upturn, which is still in its initial phase. The proper way to balance the budget is to restrict unnecessary expenses – the margin for such restrictions is big.
Energy, mining industry, environmental protection
In 2014 the energy and mining industries expect the passing of bills, which where not successfully proceeded in 2013. - the so-called energy tri-package, including the act on renewable energy sources, as well as acts regarding shale gas mining – amendments in the geology and mining law and the act on a special carbohydrate tax.
The passing of these bills should conclude the period of legislative uncertainty, which has been far to long already and caused a significant slowdown in terms of investments. Due to the impossibility of calculating costs and estimating future profits, investors have either decided not to construct energy blocks or make further research drills or delayed these actions.
With a change of the Minister of Environment we can expect a significantly faster pace of shale gas research and mining. The dismissal of the Undersecretary of State responsible for this sector, Chief National Geologist Piotr Woźniak can be seen as a symbolic turning point and a new opening. Current changes in the Ministry of Environment, including changes in mentality, have long been awaited by investors in the energy industry. Minister Grabowski is open to dialog and ideas other than his own, which bodes well for his cooperation with mining companies.
The Ministry of Environment also has a significant role to play in waste recycling. 2014 will be the first full year with the regulations introducing the so-called „waste revolution” in force. July 2014 will mark the first anniversary of these regulation coming into force. Employers of Poland hope that the Ministry will prepare a thorough information on the manner in which they are implemented and on the extent, to which they have been adapted to EU norms regarding the percentage of recycled waste. Recycling is a means to save both resources and energy. The recycling system should work for the good of Polish entrepreneurs and Polish economy as much as possible, providing them with constant access to recycled resources at an attractive price.
As far as Polish economy is concerned, key decisions are often made in the European Union. The best example is the co-called „energy-climate package” and EU regulations on combating climate changes. They generate additional, significant costs – which are an unjust burden for Poland – our companies and citizens. The opposition against plans to increase CO2 emission reduction goals and eliminate coal from the energy mix are constant and indispensable element of Polish policy in the EU, We can expect the year 2014 to bring further unfavorable propositions – regarding both climate and shale gas exploitation. Polish authorities, as well as employers' organizations and trade unions will have to build coalitions blocking any regulations restricting he competitiveness of our economy and making the exploitation of our energy resources unprofitable.
Labor law and labor market
In 2014 many actions in the field of labor law will be shape by activities of the Tripartite Commission for Socioeconomic Issues. For this reason the recommencement of social dialog is necessary – all the more so as many issues, such as the acts on solving collective disagreements or social labor inspection, require a discussion with social partners and the elaboration of legal solutions
Most likely 2014 will be a time of intensive works on restructuring the Tripartite Commission. Employers of Poland hope that this reconstruction will be achieved by social partners in a consensual manner.
On the labor market, the year 2014 should bring further stabilization. More consumer optimism, entrepreneurs' announcements of employment plans or an increase in production suggest that the number of employed Poles will grow, though a spectacular decrease in the number of unemployed should not be expected.
A gradual improvement will surely be influenced by the coming into force of the amendment to the act on promoting employment and labor market institutions – which will most likely take place in March. The solutions contained within it will realize the suggestions of the EU Council from April 22nd 2013 on establishing guarantees for youth. Moreover, new regulations will introduce significant changes in the functioning of labor offices and will broaden the catalog of instruments activating the unemployed.
Bearing in mind the negative demographic trend and significant emigration, pro-family policy, as well as convincing qualified employees from abroad to work in Poland, will both be increasingly important.
Due to changes introduced by the amendment to the bill on VAT, the coming year will likely be a big test for employees. The most important changes apply to regulations which have been in force for years: tax deductions, the moment when a tax obligation is established, calculating th taxation basis and VAT invoices. Introducing these changes may lead to further complicating the tax system and, in turn, have a negative impact on entrepreneurs. It is worth reminding that these will most likely not be the only changes in this area in 2014.
2014 will undoubtedly be very important for healthcare. This is the last year before the parliamentary elections and at the same time the last chance to introduce key changes to the system.
The Minister of Health has announced that in January 2014, he will forward the act on supplementary health insurance for social consultation. Introducing appendixes to contracts was said to be caused by plans to implement changes to he system. However, these changes should not be expected to be courageous and far-reaching, due to the local government elections in November.
The year 2014 will be a chance for faster economic growth. This may mean the end of financial difficulties of the National Healthcare Fund, which survived the last two years only thanks to introducing the refunding act, which in turn transferred some of the costs of medication to patients.
The healthcare system faces many challenges – from digitalization to preparation for the quickly approaching demographic crisis. However, this requires a road map of changes n the system to be presented and an attempt at an agreement between parties. Sadly, if the meetings of the Health Commission are anything to go by, it appears impossible.
The next 12 months will be difficult for patients. The availability of benefits will be similar to this year, but the last minute changes in the valuation of some benefits may cause turmoil and make the benefit providers decide not to offer some medical services.
Employers of Poland hope that next year will bring an improvement in dialog with the Minister of Health, the elaboration of further solutions in a consensual manner, as well as the beginning of work on the project presented by the Healthcare Academy 2030.