The Menace of Recession?

PLN 500 for Families

PLN 500 for Families

According to reports, the money provided to families as part of the “Family 500+” programme, launched by the Polish government on April 1, is quickly returning to the stock market. However, an increase in retail sales during the first half of 2016 has not been as significant as was expected. The problem lies with deteriorating market moods amongst entrepreneurs, fewer investments by business and a poor situation on the construction market. Experts assume that this is why the Polish GDP annual growth rate projected in this year’s Finance Act will likely not be achieved. “Following the first half of 2016, we have experienced economic growth that would be the pride of many western European countries, however, current Polish GDP is still too far from the 3.8% projected in the Finance Act for 2016,” said Grzegorz Ogonek of XTB. He continues: “500+ has proved to be driving retail sales but it is not capable of carrying the entire economy”. The XTB expert also expressed his surprise and deep concern over the deteriorating PMI in Poland. “It seems like half of Poland’s entrepreneurs are expecting an economic slowdown,” Ogonek said.


Battle for Błaszczykowski

Kuba Błaszczykowski

Kuba Błaszczykowski

There is no doubt that this summer has been particularly hot for Polish international Jakub Błaszczykowski, former captain of the national football team. Last season, spent at Fiorentina, was rather average for Błaszczykowski, where the winger mostly sat on the bench due to injury and a lack of form. His run of misfortune was broken during Euro 2016 in France  where he was widely considered one of the best performers. The Polish team, managed by Adam Nawałka, reached the quarter-finals and Błaszczykowski won the hearts of Polish fans by scoring two goals. The tide, however, again turned in France with the winger failing to score the decisive penalty during Poland’s final game against Portugal, ending Poland’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. What is more, Błaszczykowski’s fate has been hanging in balance ever since the change of manager at his parent club Borussia Dortmund. According to “Kicker”, Germany’s leading sport magazine, there is no place for Błaszczykowski at Borussia anymore and there are even voices saying that he is to be replaced by Andre Schuerrle, Marco Reus or Ousmane Dembele. He may have a contract for two more years at Borussia, but many European clubs such as Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg, West Ham, Southampton and Liverpool have already begun battling for Błaszczykowski. Kuba has turned down offers from more ‘exotic’ clubs, Beijing and Chicago Fire, to name but two. The player himself is more hopeful of a deal in Germany or England.

President on a Leash

Who's in Control?

Who’s in Control?

It has been over a week since Warsaw hosted the NATO summit, however, regardless of how successfully the capital of Poland handled the challenge of preparing the event, comments and heated discussions about the nature of current Polish policy continue. Marcin Kierwański, PO (Civic Platform) MP, stated that as long as the Polish government avoids responsibilities for its actions, Poland will not be treated as a partner amongst other democratic countries. What is more, the MP believes that the fact that President Duda’s actions are constantly ‘supervised’ by the leader of PiS (Law and Justice) also affects the image and credibility of Poland. “The joint press conference with Barack Obama demonstrated that President Andrzej Duda is not able to free himself of Jarosław Kaczynski’s influence,” Kierwański continues. The MP reiterated that during the summit, the US President clearly stated that NATO is not just a military alliance, it is also a community with democratic values and Poland needs to share these values, which are the foundation of the organisation. “If Poland is to remain an example of democracy for the rest of the world, there is still more work to be done regarding the impasse surrounding the Polish Constitutional Tribunal,” Obama said. According to Kierwański, Duda is aware that the remarks made by Obama are ultimately true, but he is not able to free himself from Kaczyński. “After being lectured by President Obama, President Duda decided that it is better to remain silent and pretend that everything is fine,” the MP added.

Indian Hope in Refugee Crisis

Poland's Maharaja Saviour

Poland’s Maharaja Saviour

“This is a history of Poland, but also a history of each rescued child,” said PM Beata Szydło during the opening ceremony of the unique exhibition entitled Passage to India. Polish camps in Balachadi and Valivade 1941/1948. The Polish Prime Minister thanked the organisers and emphasised that Poland respects freedom, tolerance and helping the needy because Polish history has not been easy. The exhibition, put together by the Polish History Museum, presents the story of thousands of Polish civilians, including children, who were freed under the Soviet amnesty in 1941 and together with the army of General Anders were evacuated from the Soviet Union to Iran and then to India. 6,000 of the 40,000 Polish people imprisoned in the USSR lived in the Indian camps of Balachadi and Valivade under the care of the Polish government-in-exile. United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach highlighted the fact that Polish refugee children received a new home thanks to Maharaja Jam Saheb Sri Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji of Nawangar State who provided the initial funding for an orphanage in Balachadi. Gallach said that the Maharaja’s act should be an inspiration to us all. The impressive Passage to India exhibition includes photos of the kolkhoz in Ammala, members of Anders’ Army released from the Soviet gulags and starving orphans. There are also maps showing the route Anders’ Army took through the USSR to the Middle East, pictures of refugees from Avhaz in Iran, a refugee train at Valivade station as well as photos of the everyday life of refugees in the camps of Balachadi and Valivade. One of the honorary guests at the exhibition was Henry Bobotek who lived in Balachadi camp in India. He thankfully only spent one year there because his mother managed to get to America where he joined her after the war.

From Kraków to Warsaw

Kraków - Former Capital City

Kraków – Former Capital City

Exactly 420 years has passed since the capital of Poland was moved from Kraków to Warsaw. In March 1596, the Polish king (of Swedish origin) Sigismund III Vasa moved his entire court to the region of Mazovia (Polish: Mazowsze), which in the late 16th century was already a centre of strategic importance and a rapidly developing area within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The decision to move the Polish capital was probably not only driven by the fact that the assembly of the Polish parliament (Polish: Sejm) was held that year in Warsaw, but also because of a fire that devastated Wawel Castle in Kraków. What is more, Warsaw is situated much closer to Sweden, the homeland of King Sigismund, who planned to retake the Swedish crown. “The year 1596 may well be considered the date of moving the capital of Poland from Kraków to Warsaw, but it in fact was a very long process, which lasted until 1609,” said Krzysztof Zwierz, of the Warsaw Research department of the Museum of Warsaw. “The king was simply going to participate in the Sejm and the fact that he remained with his court in Warsaw was due to certain political reason that took place at the time. Furthermore, the future capital of Poland was considered a thriving large city with more opportunities and well-developed trade routes,” he adds. Regardless of the potential that Warsaw had back then, it was Kraków that remained the official capital and the venue for the coronations of the majority of Poland’s kings, however, Warsaw gradually began to take over these diplomatic and political functions.

Polish Actors go International

Joanna Kulig

Joanna Kulig

International film producers are increasingly turning their gaze to Poland, whose actors are no longer playing only supporting roles, but have begun to star more frequently in foreign movies. Polish fingers have been well and firmly crossed for Joanna Kulig, who charmed audiences in Elles’ and The Woman in the Fifth’; for Daniel Olbrychski, who played alongside Angelina Jolie in Salt’; and for Agnieszka Grochowska in Ridley Scott’s Child 44′. More recently, Anne Fontaine’s ‘Les Innocentes’ stars Polish actresses Agata Kulesza and Agata Buzek, and ‘The Red Captain’ sees Poland’s Maciej Stuhr hit the silver screen in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The film is an adaptation of Dominik Dán’s novel of the same title and is set in the ’90s during the time of dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Richard Krauz (Maciej Stuhr), a young ambitious detective, begins an investigation into a mysterious homicide on a construction site. Step by step, Krauz starts putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that leads him to the former Czechoslovakian Security Services, the police and their links to several church dignitaries. ‘The Red Captain’ is a Slovakian, Czech and Polish co-production. The film hits Polish movie theatres this summer.

Staff Cuts in Banks

Is It Safe?

Is It Safe?

According to analysts and bankers, Poland’s banks, which employ a total of 170,000 people, are preparing for a series of dismissals for the first in a decade because of a decline in profits and government plans to charge the banking sector with additional costs. Last year, exceptionally low interest rates resulted in the loss of a quarter of the stock market value of some banks. New taxes put forward by the Law and Justice (PiS) government on assets and its plans to force banks to transform Swiss Franc mortgages into Polish złoty cause for concern because the decline in the value of the Franc has made mortgages too expensive for home owners. “By the end of 2017, new fees and taxes that have been recently forced on banks will result in the dismissal of 5% to 8% of the sector’s personnel,” says Mieczysław Groszek, vice president of the banking lobby of the Polish Bank Association (ZBP). One bank source claims that these dismissals may be higher. “For weaker banks, the reduction in personnel will reach around 10% to 20%. Thankfully, no cuts have taken place yet but HR departments are already beginning to evaluate the potential scale of the challenge ahead: the Excel spreadsheets have been prepared,” says one anonymous source.