World Bank commends Polish success but urges further reform

21 Mar 17

Poland’s ‘record’ economic growth is a development success story but the country needs to undertake further reform, according to the World Bank.

The former Soviet-bloc country’s “remarkable economic ascent” is attributed to bold reforms following the collapse of communism in 1990.

The Lessons from Poland; Insights for Poland report states the eastern European nation got its institutions right – rule of law, property rights, democratic accountability, and basic market institutions.

It then used the EU accession process and subsequent EU membership in 2004 to reinforce these achievements.

Arup Banerji, World Bank regional director for the European Union, said: “Poland is an outstanding economic and development success story, moving from middle-income to high-income status in record time.

“If Poland wants to continue its ascent and meet the rising expectations of citizens, it needs to build on its reform successes – such as prudent fiscal policy – but also initiate new reforms around innovation and progressive labor market regulations and institutions.”

Poland was the only European country to record positive growth in 2008—the year of the global crisis—and to completely avoid a banking sector crisis.

In 2015, the nation with a population of 38 million had a GDP of $477.06bn up from $65.978 in 1990 – making it the largest economy in central Europe.

Other successes cited by the World Bank include Poland’s successful connection to global and regional markets, while ensuring competition at home. This helped efficient firms to get established and created jobs.

Workers became more productive thanks to reforms that raised education quality at one of the fastest rates in the OECD countries. Equally impressive were infrastructure improvements, supported by judicious use of generous EU structural funds; the length of motorways has almost quadrupled since the transition.

Emilia Skrok, World Bank senior economist and co-author of the report, said the benefits were far reaching.

She added: “Poland’s economic growth was also inclusive for different groups of society, including the poorest, which resulted in poverty reducing from 51% in 2005 to 30% in 2014.

“Better access to good education and thriving entrepreneurship with regulatory and institutional support from the government enabled social development and advancement for millions of people in Poland.”

To ensure continued progress the report says better governance is needed to build trust in government by making public services more client-oriented, transparent, and efficient. Citizens should also be more directly involved in governing and public service delivery.

Poland will need to deal with the increasing pressures of an ageing population and the inevitable decline of European structural funds for investment – Poland is currently receiving ‎€86bn from the EU in structural and investment funding.


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