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2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Poland 2018

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The Polish economy is expanding rapidly and living standards continue to rise, catching up with those in other OECD countries. To sustain this trend Poland needs to invest further in skills and infrastructure and develop its capacity to innovate. Indicators of scientific research quality are below those in the leading OECD countries, and business R&D investment remains weak despite rapid recent growth. Vocational training suffers from limited business engagement, and adult learning is not well developed, inhibiting citizens’ ability to acquire stronger basic and digital skills. This is holding back the economy’s capacity to innovate and the ability of Poland’s plentiful small enterprises to adopt new technologies, modernise their organisation and production procedures, and thus improve their productivity and grow. The government plans a higher education reform and the development of a skills strategy to address those issues. To help Poland confront rapid ageing, policies need to bolster seniors' and female employment, while making Poland more attractive to domestic and foreign workers alike. Poland also needs a strategy how to ensure continued financing for investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation from domestic sources should the availability of EU Structural Funds decline in the next EU budgetary cycle.

SPECIAL FEATURESINNOVATION; FINANCING INNOVATIVE BUSINESS INVESTMENT

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Financing innovative business investment

Poland’s productivity has grown strongly over the past two decades. However, the public and private capital stock is weak, and investment remains focused on the adoption of existing technologies, which weighs on future productivity gains and innovation. Many micro enterprises have low productivity, and structural bottlenecks reduce start-ups’ growth and their chances of survival. The EU and the government are stepping up funding for business research and development, collaboration with the public sector, entrepreneurship and innovation. This is an opportunity to improve the management of public business support, and the large new programmes should be carefully discussed with stakeholders and regularly evaluated to avoid the risks of subsidising low-productivity firms and to strengthen the take up from the most productive small and medium-sized enterprises. The sustainability of this ambitious package of measures will also require significant public revenues and promoting alternative market-based financing instruments will be critical over the medium term. Ongoing improvements in insolvency procedures and efforts to reduce the regulatory burden are set to ease reallocation of resources through the economy. However, the level of state involvement would remain important, and ensuring the independence of the network industry regulators and the Competition Authority and a level playing field between alternative technologies, as well as easing labour mobility would be good moves.

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