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Friday, 26 October 2018

A letter of the President at the conference of the National Bank of Poland

Organizers and Participants of the conference of the National Bank of Poland

The Mystery of Low Productivity Growth in Europe




Ladies and Gentlemen,



I wish to extend my cordial greetings to the organizers and participants of the conference entitled: The Mystery of Low Productivity Growth in Europe, organized by the National Bank of Poland as part of the cycle devoted to the future of the European economy. I am glad that it is for the eighth time now that the selected, extremely important and timely topics will be discussed by such an excellent group of experts.


I would like to thank Professor Adam Glapiński for the fact that the Polish Central Bank has taken up the challenge of seeking answers to the fundamental issues and invited so many distinguished international guests.


Economists always stress the importance and the role of labour productivity for the economic growth and for the competitiveness of the economy. I think that we should consider these interrelationships on three levels: global, European and regional, including in particular our native Polish one. On the global scale, huge changes are taking place as we speak, with effects difficult to predict today. The development of IT and artificial intelligence undoubtedly contributes to an increased labour productivity, but it also presents a challenge for societies and governments, who must actively counteract professional exclusion by enhancing qualifications and adapting skills of their citizens to the current needs, so that people remain the subject of work, and not merely its object, a kind of incapacitated consumers of machine-manufactured goods.


On the European level, we are dealing with a number of factors which can adversely affect labour productivity. An inspiring title of today`s conference - The Mystery of Low Productivity Growth in Europe highlights better productivity as a driver of economic growth in Europe, while pointing out that this growth is currently based on low productivity. What is most interesting, however, is the fact that the reasons behind the growth are considered as not entirely clear. Your meeting will certainly provide an opportunity to hold a substantive debate on the subject. Europe needs a deep reflection today, as well as a frank, open debate on how to restore vitality of the European economy. We believe that one of the ways to attain that goal is to ensure cooperation between the Member States without excessive centralization, with sustainable development based on national specificities of individual countries, taking into account the potential and aspirations of each Community member.


Finally, when it comes to our region, and to Poland in particular, innovation and the development of new technologies are the priorities. Faced by the new industrial revolution and an unprecedented civilization development unfolding before our eyes, we must spare no efforts in utilizing these processes to the biggest possible extent. In the year marking the centenary of its independence, Poland can boast a fast economic growth, one of the highest in Europe. This dynamic GDP growth is encouraging. We would like to see our economy developing equally fast also in the years to come - this being a precondition for the development of the state, the prosperity of its citizens and the high quality of life. At the same time, we are aware that the economic growth is made up of higher employment and labour productivity. Conscious of the fact that the labour supply tends to slow down in the long term if rapid economic growth is sustained, it is precisely labour productivity that must be considered a particularly important factor in the development of the economy. Also in the currently – implemented government policy, underpinned by the Responsible Development Strategy, the need to increase the level of labour productivity was noted, especially through the development of an innovative economy and an increase in the level of investment.


Poles are earning more and more today, and the low unemployment rate is a reason for us to be very satisfied. We realize, however, that this trend may be difficult to sustain unless better labour productivity is ensured. Labour productivity in Poland is still low in comparison with the strongest European economies. There are a number of reasons why we must focus on this, one of them being investments and inflation forecasts. However, this issue is also worth considering from the microeconomic perspective, since labour is an important component of the costs incurred by companies. Work linked to material and financial resources provides companies with opportunities for growth and development. I am glad that the participants of the Conference will also discuss these themes.


In conclusion, let me make a historical reference. This year Poland celebrates the centenary of regaining its independence. One hundred years ago our country returned to the map of Europe, and throughout the following twenty years, until the  outbreak of the Second World War, it managed to become a modern state with a competitive economy and a development plan for the years to come.


Although the world has changed a lot since then, we are facing similar challenges in many respects, including how to ensure economic growth in the environment of sustainable development and competition in the global markets.


I wish you fruitful deliberations. I believe that they will contribute to the development of solutions, which will help us shape a better future together.


President of the Republic of Poland

Andrzej Duda

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