Polish Sexual Education

Let's Talk About Sex

Let’s Talk About Sex

“If you try to explain geometry to a girl, you should be patient, even if the fact that she is so slow on the uptake annoys you.” “Children who have no contact with their father develop low self-esteem and are more likely to come into conflict with the law.” “Many specialists recommend using herbs instead of antiperspirants.” Sentences like these can be found in a series of sexual education textbooks endorsed by the Polish Ministry of Education. “This is extremely worrying. There is no knowledge to be found in these textbooks, only ideology,” says Maria Pawłowska of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). “The authors fail to provide pupils with the tools necessary for making their own choices. Instead, these textbooks convey what, according to the Catholic Church, is the one and only correct view of sexuality.” For example, the textbooks suggest that only married heterosexual couples can engage in sexual relations. Contraceptives are presented as highly fallible with the rhythm method of birth control being the recommended alternative. Furthermore, the textbooks are filled with stereotypes. “Being a woman is equated to being a mother to the point where one is expected to give up one’s seat for a pregnant woman not out of the consideration for her wellbeing but as a way to show respect for the life growing inside her,” adds Pawłowska. The Ministry of Education counters these criticisms, saying that the textbooks have been approved by experts.
Gazeta Wyborcza

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Energy from Waste Dump

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

A photovoltaic farm will open at a former waste dump near Ustronie Morskie by the end of April. The very idea of installing it there and the impressive progress of work are praiseworthy, all the more so in view of Poland’s hitherto patchy record in promoting the use of renewable energy sources. By 2020 the share of renewable energy in total power generation in Poland should reach 20% and if that target is to be met, a great deal of effort is still required. The governor of the village of Kukinka, who came up with the idea of converting a nearby waste dump into a photovoltaic farm, is acutely aware of this fact. Having seen a similar solution in Germany, he set about seeking funds to finance a photovoltaic farm in his area. An EU subsidy and a low-interest loan provided the money, a contractor was selected and work began. The investment enables the development of land which would otherwise remain unusable for a few decades under current regulations prohibiting the construction of any buildings on former landfill sites for 50 years from the moment they ceased to be used as such. Specialists explain that these regulations were adopted for safety reasons: waste decomposes underground, which produces hollow spaces and gases leading to ground instability for a long period. However, if the land is properly prepared and safety conditions are met, under certain circumstances a former landfill can be recultivated sooner. Additionally, photovoltaic farms are considered equipment installations rather than constructions, so a building permit is not necessary, even though Kukinka obtained one for the project. The power generated locally will allow the village to reduce its current spending on power by over 80% and, consequently, a relatively short payback period for the investment.
Puls Biznesu

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Business Process Outsourcing

Kraków Business Hub

Kraków Business Hub

2014 saw an intense development of business process outsourcing and shared service centres (BPO/SSC) in Poland. The boom drove up the demand for office space outside Warsaw by as much as 34% and investors were quick to spot opportunities in the high absorption capacity of Poland’s regional markets. On the one hand major Polish cities are expanding their offer of office space that meets the requirements of foreign institutional investors, and on the other, BPO/SSC tenants, increasingly interested in Polish regional capitals, help to keep rent there at a stable level. In Wrocław, for example, contracts with BPO/SSC accounted for 81% of all office space leases signed last year and in Kraków their share was 69%. Over 470 shared service centres run by 325 investors operate currently across Poland, providing more than 130,000 jobs, most of which is in Kraków. Typically, specialised services for business comprise IT, tax and accounting, and HR administration. The sector prospects for the upcoming 2-3 years are optimistic, with a particularly bright outlook for IT service centres. According to a recent KPMG report, Poland is the global second most attractive location for the development of outsourced IT services, outranked only by India, which remains the unsurpassed leader. Poland is perceived as a country inhabited by many talented young people with high ICT skills. The country’s economic stability and sustained growth coupled with European Union membership is a safeguard of business security for companies that outsource IT services. The chief advantage of business process outsourcing is that it can considerably improve the quality of services while reducing costs. Another benefit stems from cost flexibility and, in the case of new solutions, shorter time to market. Experts forecast increasing popularity of BPO/SSC in the near future and note that while outsourcing is becoming a standard procedure for businesses, as much as 73% of public sector organisations still do not use it in their operations.
Puls Biznesu

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Spanish Interest in Poland

Spanish-Polish Cooperation

Spanish-Polish Cooperation

Last year’s changes in Polish exports of medicinal products came as a surprise to market experts, manufacturers and industry organisations alike. In the first three quarters of 2014 Spain bought 80% more pharmaceuticals in Poland than in the whole of 2013. According to data of the Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS), PLN 1.37 billion worth of medicinal products were sold to Spain, positioning the country as the largest importer, well ahead of Germany, which halved its imports of Polish pharmaceuticals. Industry experts and insiders did not expect this change and surmise that since Polish drugs are relatively inexpensive, distributors might buy pharmaceuticals intended for the domestic market and sell them elsewhere in the EU. Another conjecture offered as an explanation is that even though the crisis in Spain is officially over and the country’s economy is recovering, Spaniards might still be curbing their expenses and thus be attracted by the value for money of Polish products. Polish manufacturers have done little to bring about such export dynamics. While Adamed has gained a foothold on the Spanish market, the scale of its operations there is limited. Polpharma, Poland’s largest pharmaceutical company, has monthly sales to Spain averaging approximately PLN 300,000. An expert from IMS Heath, a research company, believes that the Spanish boom may have been triggered by the policies of pharmaceutical multinationals whose Polish plants manufacture for both domestic and global markets. Closing down a few of their production lines dedicated to the German market might have led to a decline in exports to Germany, just as the opening of new ones targeted at other markets might have boosted exports there. Although Spain was one of the hardest-hit economies in the recent crisis, its potential as a trade and investment partner is significant and its share in Polish exports grew at a two-digit rate in 2013 and 2014. Also, having invested almost €10.5 billion, Spain now ranks fifth in foreign direct investments in Poland.
Puls Biznesu

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Unemployment Falls

Bright Future?

Bright Future?

The number of unemployed Poles aged under 25 decreased from 395,000 to 301,000 in the space of one year according to Eurostat. This is a record for the EU and a surprise for economists. Youth unemployment is considered key in assessing a country’s overall economic situation as it is the first indicator to soar in a crisis and the last one to fall when the economy recovers. That was the case in Poland. In 2010, when the ripple effect of the global crisis was felt in the Polish economy, 24% young people were jobless. At the end of 2013 this figure reached almost 27.5%, but after four lean years the unemployment rate in this age group began to drop and did so astonishingly quickly. Total unemployment in Poland also fell last year, from 10% to 8%, marking another EU record. Economists find this unusual, since unemployment only falls so rapidly when GDP growth is around 6% and in 2014 it was only 3.3%. The sharp rise in the number of jobs is a result of the investments of medium-sized and large companies, whose spending on development in 2014 was 16% higher than in the previous year. Governmental programmes designed to reduce youth unemployment also contributed to this improvement. By the summer, the unemployment rate in Poland is expected to drop to 9.7% according to the Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) or even to 7% according to Eurostat. The differences result from the diverse methodologies used by the two institutions. While GUS measures the ratio of registered unemployed people to the total number of people with employment contracts, Eurostat takes into account the business activity of the population in general, including work under civil law contracts and in the grey economy. The BAEL methodology used by Eurostat does not focus on the quality of jobs, however, it gives a fuller picture of the market and allows comparisons within the EU.
wyborcza.pl

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New Fiscal Punitive Measure

Calculating Tax

Calculating Tax

Poles have time up until the end of April to submit their annual tax returns. Companies additionally need to attach their financial statements and a failure to do so is a fiscal misdemeanour as of this year under amended article 80b of the Polish Fiscal Penal Code. Thus, tax authorities have a new tool to discipline businesses which neglect to file their financial statements or auditor’s reports. The classification of this omission as a fiscal misdemeanour means that the penalty may range from PLN 175 to PLN 35,000, whereas a fine for an administrative petty offence does not exceed a few hundred zlotys. The exact amount of the fine depends mainly on the financial standing of the entity in breach of the statutory obligation. In companies the fines are typically imposed on management board members or other persons responsible for tax and accounting settlements. Both the Corporate Income Tax Act and the Personal Income Tax Act stipulate that tax payers must file their financial statements with the tax office, yet noncompliance was so widespread as to prompt the Ministry of Finance to introduce sanctions. The requirement to keep full books of account, prepare financial statements and have them audited vary depending on the legal form of the entity concerned and, in the case of natural persons and some partnerships, on their net revenues from sales in the previous financial year. The tax payers obliged to draft financial statements should remember that the obligation to submit a financial statement to the relevant tax office along with the tax return is separate from and independent of the obligation to file the same statement with the National Court Register.
Puls Biznesu

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Crowdsourced Market Research

Genius of the Crowd

Genius of the Crowd

Polish companies can now check whether their promotional materials have been correctly set up in a shop miles away from the company head office or whether an event organised by a third party provider is following the agreed scenario without sending employees to do field work as mystery shoppers. The task can be assigned to any smartphone owner who is nearby and wants to be involved. This is a market research formula offered by ABR Sesta, a consultancy run by Sebastian Starzyński and Marcin Dobek. The project is based on TakeTask.pl, a mobile application developed by Tomasz Rogalski and modelled on the American FieldAgent solution. The application relies on crowdsourcing in doing market research. In practice this means engaging ordinary people in analyses and tests commissioned by businesses. The precondition for candidates is to have an Android smartphone with internet access. Plus they must be willing to take up the task. The app displays a list of tasks and users pick the ones they want to perform. The nature of the tasks can differ, for example users can be asked to document with a photo the availability of products in a shop or the arrangement of items on shelves. They can also check prices, report consumer behaviour or report places in the public space where repairs are needed. For each single task completed correctly a previously agreed fee is offered. At present, about 2,000 agents are registered. Their work is assessed just as the performance of regular employees would be, that is based on the photos they send and GPS tracking to confirm that they were actually present on the site. Market research conducted with the use of the application is mainly popular with FMCG and electronics manufacturers for auditing points of sale that offer their products.
Puls Biznesu

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