Jadwiga Emilewicz, Poland’s minister of entrepreneurship and technology, talks about the government’s efforts to increase the ease of doing business for entrepreneurs and lure back home the Polish diaspora in the UK and Germany to address an increasingly tight labour market.  

Q: In April 2018 the government approved a so-called ‘constitution for business’ to untie the hands of local entrepreneurs. What have been the results so far?

A: The fundamental reason for the constitution for business was to moderate the relationship between businesses and the administration. Businesses felt they were not being treated equally and fully openly by the administration. They complained about the bureaucracy involved in setting up and running a business. We drew inspiration by the red tape approach in the UK to reduce bureaucratic barriers, we introduced 200 beneficial changes in the law that will yield savings for businesses in the order of 3.8bn zloty ($949.7m) over 10 years. Those changes are based on the assumption that entrepreneurs are acting according to the law, not against it. In doing so, we are trying to change the treatment entrepreneurs. […] Since we introduced the reform, some 900 new companies were registered per day, more than those that were being withdrawn. What I see is promising in terms of changing the approach of the administration towards entrepreneurship.

Q: Poland’s economic growth is creating shortages of workers in the labour market. Are you being successful in luring back home the Polish diaspora in the UK and Germany?

A: In 2004, right after we joined the EU, some two million mostly young people left the country. This year’s net immigration figures tell us we have grabbed back some of them, and we are very proud of it. Today we have the lowest unemployment rate in 25 years, and employment rates are at record high. These conditions are difficult for the employers, which is why we are trying to attract people back from the UK and Germany, where we have the biggest Polish population abroad. Some years ago Polish workers dreamed of going  abroad, now they are dreaming of coming back, because life standards improved, purchasing power is better, it’s a more secure and safe country. Thanks to our immigration policies, we are very homogeneous. We do believe in changing the migration trends. We are also trying to encourage entrepreneurs to share the profits and offer higher wages. Automation is also part of the answer. Another one is a visa programme to attract talent, which we are in the process of testing.

Q: What are you doing to increase amount of investment in the economy?

A: We set up special economic zones [SEZs] in 1994 to attract foreign direct investment. After 20 years we are trying to modernise them. […] We have changed the criteria for entering SEZs. Nowadays the number of labour created is not that important any more. We value more the collaboration with universities, R&D activities, the amount of investment and the localisation. Giving public aid to the most qualified investors is the most beneficial strategy.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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