major macro economic indicators
|2018||2019||2020 (e)||2021 (f)|
|GDP growth (%)||5.4||4.5||-3.4||4.0|
|Inflation (yearly average, %)||1.2||2.1||3.5||2.0|
|Budget balance (% GDP)||-0.2||-0.7||-9.2||-4.1|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||-0.7||1.4||1.7||1.3|
|Public debt (% GDP)||48.8||45.7||56.9||57.1|
(e): estimate (f): forecast
- Market of 38 million people
- Proximity to Western European markets
- Price competitiveness, qualified and cheap labour force
- Integrated into the German production chain
- Diversified economy (agriculture, variety of industries, services)
- Resilient financial sector
- Inadequate level of investment; domestic savings rate is too low
- Weakness in R&D; high content of exports in imports
- Developmental lag in Eastern regions
- Structural unemployment, low level of female employment
The recovery delayed by the second wave of the pandemic
Poland, which remained relatively resilient to the financial crisis of 2008/2009, suffered much more from the COVID-19 pandemic this time around. A fall in demand and the restrictions imposed during the first wave of the pandemic led to a significant drop in household consumption, which remains a crucial part of the economy (58% of GDP). Just in the first half of 2020, household consumption decreased by nearly 5% year-over-year, while public consumption, supported by the extraordinary spending, was the only component that increased steadily whilst the economy was hit by the pandemic. The third quarter had ignited the hope that a straight way to recovery was ahead, but the second wave of the pandemic reversed this scenario. The labour market has not suffered significantly thanks to the implemented support measures, such as the short-time work scheme that includes standstill allowance. However, unemployment did increase, reversing the continued downward trend observed since 2013. This puts pressure on the further dynamics of household consumption, which are likely to be limited by low confidence amid pandemic-related uncertainty, lower employment and a higher propensity to save. On the other hand, lower employment reduced the tightness of the labour market due to mounting labour shortages. Fixed asset investments are going to be reduced because companies are still facing a higher level of uncertainty and a drop in their capacity utilization induced by lower demand. As expressed in surveys, firms from various sectors reduced their investments in 2020, with the largest slumps being reported by the construction and retail sectors. Investments are expected to rebound later in 2021, when the economy will be gradually recovering. Nevertheless, the improved economic activity would result in the phasing-out of support measures, which should lead to higher unemployment and growth in business insolvencies. Investments will benefit from the EU structural funds and the new Next Generation EU fund aimed at tackling the negative economic consequences of the COVID-pandemic. The former is the equivalent of 19.2% of GDP to be received in 2021-2027, while the latter totals 12.1% of GDP.
The budget deficit widened significantly
After the relatively low budget deficits recorded in 2018 and 2019, public finance balances have widened due to the pandemic and the measures implemented to contain its effects. Lower tax revenues and a strong increase in expenditures contributed to the deficit. In 2021, the budget deficit is expected to shrink thanks to the recovering economy and phasing-out fiscal measures. However, it is not expected to return below the 3% of GDP threshold level before 2023. The current account balance had turned positive in 2019, and is estimated to have remained in that area in 2020 thanks to trade in services - which has continued to post the largest surplus and was supported by transportation services abroad - and trade in goods. Despite the contraction of demand on external markets at the peak of the first wave of COVID-19, Polish exports rebounded relatively fast thanks to their competitiveness and their inclusion in supply chains. With an expected revival of global trade in 2021, exports are likely to drive the balance of goods even more, but rising imports supported by the recovery will limit the contribution of net exports to GDP growth.
The governing party extends its lead
The ruling right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS) had narrowly won a second term in office in the latest parliamentary elections held in October 2019. However, its grip on power weakened after it lost control of the upper house (Senate) and failed to increase its absolute majority in the more powerful lower chamber (Sejm). Moreover, tensions in the coalition erupted in 2020 when the junior parties, United Poland (SP) and Agreement, refused to back legislation proposed by the PiS. This resulted in a cabinet reshuffle. In late 2020, the government faced mass protests after it had asked for the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision that declared most abortions illegal, while abortion laws in Poland have already been among the strictest in Europe. The support for the party has dropped even though it could gain more Catholic and right-wing voters. Before this, the incumbent president Andrzej Duda, who originated from PiS, secured a second term in office after the second round of the presidential election that was held in July 2020.
Last updated: February 2021
Standard bills of exchange and cheques are not widely used, as they must meet a number of formal issuing requirements in order to be valid. Nevertheless, for dishonoured or contested bills and cheques, creditors may resort to fast-track procedures resulting in an injunction to pay. There is, however, one type of bill of exchange that is commonly used – the weksel in blanco. This is an incomplete promissory note bearing only the term “weksel” and the issuer’s signature at the time of issue. The signature constitutes an irrevocable promise to pay, and this undertaking is enforceable upon completion of the promissory note (with the amount, place, and date of payment), in accordance with a prior agreement made between the issuer and the beneficiary. Weksels in blanco are widely used as they also constitute a guarantee of payment in commercial agreements and the rescheduling of payments.
Cash payments were commonly used in Poland by individuals and firms alike, but under the 2018 Business Law Act (Ustawa – Prawo przedsiębiorców), companies are required to make settlements via bank accounts for any transaction exceeding the sum or equivalent of 15,000 Polish złotys even when payable in several instalments. This measure has been introduced to combat fraudulent money laundering.
Bank transfers have become the most widely used payment method. Following phases of privatisation and consolidation, Polish banks now use the SWIFT network.
Amicable debt collection is the first step of the debt recovery procedure in Poland. These actions include reminders and/or demands for payment. These communications usually serve to obtain repayment of outstanding debt, to warn the debtor of further official actions, to obtain acknowledgment of the debt, to conclude an agreement between the creditor and the debtor based on the acknowledgment of its debt and to obtain a commitment to the repayment agreed.
As of 2004, interest can be claimed as from the 31st day following delivery of the product or service, even where the parties have agreed to longer payment terms. The legal interest rate will apply from the 31st day until the contractual payment date. Thereafter, in the case of late payments, the tax penalty rate will apply. This is very often greater than the legal interest rate, unless the contracting parties have agreed on a higher interest rate.
A bill to implement the 2011/7/EU directive of 2011 on “combating late payment in commercial transactions” provides the contracting parties with maximum payment terms of 60 days. Similarly, default interest is due the day after the deadline, without the need for a formal notice. By implementing the EU Directive, Poland introduced new rules regarding compensation for payment defaults in commercial transactions. These rules oblige debtors to pay the costs of recovery when the payment term expires. The defined amount is a lump sum of €40 – but it is possible to demand a larger amount if the costs of recovery prove to be higher.
Creditors can seek an injunction to pay (nakaz zaplaty) via a fast-track and less expensive procedure, provided they can produce positive proof of debt (such as unpaid bills of exchange, unpaid cheques, weksels in blanco, or other acknowledgements of debt). If the judge is not convinced of the substance of the claim – a decision he alone is empowered to make – he may refer the case to full trial.
As since 2010, the district court of Lublin has jurisdiction throughout Poland to handle electronic injunctions to pay when claims are indisputable. The clerk of the court examines the merits of the application, to which is attached the list of the available evidence. He then, using an electronic signature, validates the ruling granting the injunction to pay. This procedure appears, at first glance, to be fast, economic and flexible, but in reality the sheer number of cases mean that this process can be slow and drawn out.
Ordinary proceedings are partly written and partly oral. The parties file submissions accompanied by all supporting case documents (original or certified copies). Oral pleadings, with the litigants, their lawyers, and their witnesses are heard on the main hearing date. During these proceedings the judge is required to attempt conciliation between the parties.
Standard court procedures can be also fast and effective when the creditor can provide documents that clearly show the amount of debt and the confirmation of delivery of goods (or proper performance of services), especially if the documents have been signed by the debtor. The court issues an order for payment which states that the debtor should pay the amount of the debt in two weeks, or return a written argument within the same period of time. However, in standard procedures, it is quite easy for the defendant to postpone the case. When the defendant argues the order of payment during this kind of procedure, it can take a long time to obtain the final verdict, due to the lack of judges and large backlog of cases.
Enforcement of a legal decision
When all appeal venues have been exhausted, a judgment becomes final and enforceable. If the debtor does not comply with the judgment, the creditor can request that the court orders a compulsory enforcement mechanism of the decision, through a bailiff. For foreign awards rendered in an EU country, specific enforcement mechanisms such as the EU Payment order or the European Enforcement Order can be used for undisputed claims. Awards rendered in non-EU countries are recognised and enforced, provided that the issuing country is party to a bilateral or multilateral agreement with Poland.
The 2015 reform on polish insolvency law introduced four new types of restructuring proceedings which aim to avoid the bankruptcy of insolvent or distressed businesses.
The “arrangement approval proceedings” is available to debtors who are able to reach an arrangement with the majority of creditors without court involvement and where the sum of the disputed debt does not exceed 15% of total claims. The debtor will continue to manage its estate but it will be required to appoint a supervisor, who will prepare a restructuring plan. The creditors approve the proposal through a vote.
Accelerated arrangement proceedings are also available if the sum of the disputed debt does not exceed 15% of total claims. The procedure is simplified in relation to the allowance of claims carrying voting rights. Creditors can only make reservations via a list of claims prepared by the court supervisor or administrator. The debtor’s estate will continue to be managed by the debtor-in-possession, but a court supervisor will be appointed to supervise its management.
The “standards arrangement” proceeding is available for disputed debts exceeding 15% of the total claim. With these proceedings, the court secures the debtor’s estate by appointing a temporary court supervisor.
“Remedial” proceedings offer the broadest restructuring options and scope of protection of the debtor’s assets against creditors. The appointment of an administrator to manage the debtor’s estate is mandatory.
Bankruptcy proceedings can only be declared when a debtor has become “insolvent”. There are two test of insolvency – the liquidity test and the balance sheet test. Both aim to liquidate the estate of the bankrupt company and distribute the proceeds among its debtors. The entire procedure is court-driven, although the 2015 reform has given creditors holding major claims a right to influence the Polish anti-crisis legislation (so called “Anti-Crisis Shield”) to a small extent affects issues related to cash receivables in business-to-business relations, although the exception here are receivables resulting from lease contracts in commercial facilities over 2000 square meters. In this respect, the obligation to pay the rent was temporarily suspended for the full-lockdown period.
COVID – 19:
The most important solutions introduced by this legislation concern bankruptcy proceedings thus the responsibility of management board members for failure to file a bankruptcy petition was suspended. This resulted in a decrease in the number of bankruptcy petitions (instead of the expected increase) in the initial phase of the pandemic. Anti-Crisis Shield also announced a new type of restructuring procedure, namely the simplified restructuring procedure. This procedure is similar to the procedure for approval of an arrangement, which has not been popular so far. The opening of this procedure is associated with undoubted privileges for the debtor, such as the suspension of creditors' obligations for a maximum period of four months while the court approves the arrangements made with creditors. During this period, it is impossible for the creditors to terminate contracts or to start enforcement procedures titles (like court judgements or payment orders). It is all linked with a minor restriction in managing the debtor’s company. So far, we observe a certain number of these proceedings being opened.