The Ministry of Regional Development has prepared an anti-crisis package, the aim of which is to accelerate and facilitate the spending of EU funds. The €67 billion which has been granted for Poland from the European Union for the period 2007-2013, available for entrepreneurs, self-governments and non-governmental institutions, is seen as a key factor in sustaining the growth of the Polish economy in the face of a downturn.
According to the government’s calculations, this year 25-26 billion złoty of aid money will be spent (the value of the expenses settled with the Commission will amount to 16.8 billion złoty), 21 billion of which will have its source of financing in the Union budget and the rest will be provided by the government or self-governments.
“Thanks to EU funds, we can successfully face the economic slowdown. Quicker examination of applications for financial aid, support for people working outside their place of residence or an increase in the limit of state aid for enterprises constitute the next stage of anti-crisis activities undertaken by the Ministry of Regional Development,” says Elżbieta Bienkowska, regional development minister.
Due to the new regulations, advance payments, which will amount to up to 20 percent of the donations, will be available for companies in a much broader sense than they used to be. The ministry will recommend the money to be paid in the tranche system – after spending a given sum, the next amount will be paid. In this way, contributions to an investment will be allocated to an entrepreneur in advance and not in the form of a refund for the costs incurred.
Another change is favourable for big companies from the sector of ICT service centres; the previous regulation required a company to create and maintain workplaces for 200 people for two years after having received the donations. The Ministry has lowered the number of new employees to 100.
Union donations may serve as a lifeboat for the unemployed and will fuel many sectors of the economy; they are a significant factor, and will contribute to farm modernisations, road, air and railway infrastructure, amongst other projects. They are a chance not only for more influential companies like PBG SA (which provides technical services in the fields of natural gas, crude oil and water) or POL – AGUA (provides construction services in the scope of engineering, ecology, roads and pipelines), but also smaller enterprises, which are less visible on the infrastructural market.
Elżbieta Bienkowska claims that during the last few months there has been progress when it comes to spending funds from regional operational programmes, among which Małopolska is an unprecedented leader, regarding both the number and value of signed contracts. However, the Ministry representatives admit that the situation does not look so rosy in all regions – some of them, to which the Mazowieckie voivodship belongs, do not cope well with spending money from regional operational programmes, or their local regulations make it impossible to advance money.
Despite the fact that for the time being the amount of money paid from the budget is low, Jerzy Kwieciński, the vice-minister for regional government in the PiS government assures that in order to receive more payouts, we need to wait until the investments, for which the contract have been made, are realised on a mass scale. According to experts, in order for the government’s full year investment target to be met, in 2009 the value of initiated projects should amount to 70 billion złoty. The value of contracts signed during last month allows one to have an optimistic forecast – if this tendency continues over the next months, 16.8 billion złoty will be poured into EU-funded investments.