Warsaw, 23rd March 2020
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers appeals to the Government
to take the threats facing Poland seriously
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers calls for a serious consideration of the threats the Poland is presently facing. This extraordinary situation requires the Government and Parliament to re-examine the solutions proposed in the project known as “The Anti-Crisis Shield”.
Only three months ago, Poland had the lowest unemployment since 1989, uninterrupted economic growth for three decades, and a rapidly growing productivity of Polish enterprises. Those times are behind us. We are entering a new reality and must not act in accordance with the ‘business as usual’ rule.
And not only here and now, but also in the days to come when we will have to start rebuilding the economy in difficult conditions and in a changed global economic environment. Wealthier and more developed countries such as the United States forecast an increase in unemployment up to 30%. For many developed countries, this may mean taking a step back by as many as 10 years. For Poland, a new-born amongst developed countries, this may translate into a return to the category from which it took the hard work of the last two generations of employees and employers to get us out.
The Government and the Sejm must understand that this time there will be no second chances. The seriousness of the situation is best reflected in the stabilisation programmes of other European countries and the United States, and we recommend the authors of the new act and all Polish MPs to familiarise themselves with them.
The Union finds a number of praiseworthy legal provisions in the Government’s proposals. Among them without a shade of doubts are the proposals on deregulation. Above all, these concern the reduction in the number of deadline or their postponement for meeting certain administrative or reporting obligations. Particularly noteworthy are the provisions regulating the disposal of medical waste, renewable energy regulations, the suspension of the obligation to perform periodic medical examinations of employees, postponement of the obligation to submit a new JPK_VAT file (Standard Audit File for Tax), suspension of court dates (part of the proposals presented by the Ministry of Justice) and certain proceedings. We also deem commendable the provisions extending the deadline for submitting applications for the right to stay for foreigners, as well as those extending the already issued residence cards. These issues are fundamental from the point of view of the labour market – the functioning of many industries is already largely based on economic migrants from abroad.
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers undertakes to monitor the effects of these facilitations in the coming months, convinced that many of them will deserve their permanent enforcement. In this context, we welcomed the proposal to “relax” the Sunday trade ban by temporarily enabling the unloading, receiving and displaying of essentials on that day. Similar solutions, though more precisely worded and in an earlier timeframe, were undertaken by most European countries, including Germany where most shops on Sundays had remained closed until now. At the same time, we urge you to take a bolder step and call off – at least temporarily – the ban at all.
A clear declaration of the government to waive social security contributions for entrepreneurs is one of the issues that in our opinion require immediate addressing. We understand that this is a difficult period, but the prolonged lack of unanimity regarding social security contributions results in increasing anxiety among entrepreneurs and a growing number of small and micro-companies can simply suspend their business operations, which will not only cause major current financial problems for the state, but might in the future impact a sensitive sector of the economy. Doubts arise as to the subjective scope of this waiver, because reports on this issue are contradictory. According to one version, this exemption would cover self-employed persons whose revenues fell, and all micro-enterprises employing at least one employee regardless of whether the pandemic had any impact on the generated revenues. According to the second version presented in the media, waiving of the contributions would apply only to those entities that could prove a decrease in revenues. We believe that only those solutions make sense in the current situation that are simple and as easy to implement as possible. Valuation and setting conditions of any kind condemn the whole idea of support to failure. Once again – the current situation is extraordinary. There is no place here for the traditional ‘rites and rituals’ of officials at the Social Insurance Institution (Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych) who used to celebrate applications on a daily basis, analyse tax returns, put entrepreneurs at attention like during a drill in the army, without respect for their time and costs additionally incurred by accountants and tax advisors. The same issue concerns the assistance in financing employees’ remunerations, which assumes a three-tier structure for granting employee support. We understand the traditional fear of officials that someone will get too much. However, we wish to point out that in the current situation, if this people receive financial aid in June or September, there will be limited sense to maintain employment of tax officials.
With undisguised amusement we have read the proposals regarding loans to entrepreneurs. Loans in the amount of PLN 5,000. With all due respect for Polish clerks and officials’ salaries, these funds are in no way compatible with the purpose of the loan, determined in accordance with the regulations as “means to cover the current costs of business operations”. This discrepancy becomes even more pronounced should one take into account the fact that the loan is amortised (together with interest) if the micro-entrepreneur does not reduce the level of employment in comparison to the end of February 2020 for half a year after the loan is granted. This design indicates that the drafters who authored these provisions intend to reward micro-entrepreneurs who maintain employment level in spite of an economically more difficult period. PLN 5,000 will not encourage any entrepreneur to maintain employment in conditions of rapidly decreasing revenues. We are not even going to address the concept the higher amounts would be provided to entrepreneurs as loans provided that the Ministry of Development or the Industrial Development Agency (Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu) are to have 30 days for substantive and formal assessment of an enterprise’s application. Instead, we refer to the proposals and procedures prepared for by other governments for their entrepreneurs, concerned for the fate of their national economies.
Finally, we wish to draw your attention to the proposals submitted by the Social Insurance Institution that are ludicrous and proof of their authors’ detachment from reality. Apparently taking advantage of the chaos and desperation of many, the Social Insurance Institution decided to introduce an additional obligation to always inform the SII about the conclusion of any and all specific task contracts. This proposal is not only increasing the reporting obligations of entrepreneurs in these hard times, but is also a shocking testament of lack of empathy.
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers appreciates the fact that the project was created on short notice and often required night hours. Nevertheless, we would like once again to remind our authorities to take the situation in which our country and our economy have found themselves very seriously. We really are on the very same boat.
Photo. Free-Photos / pixabay.com