BEHIND THE EURO-FASADE
Wiesława Lewandowska talks with the parliamentarian Jerzy Polaczekabout a great satisfaction, big money, beautiful stadiums and roads from the lower European level
WIESLAWA LEWANDOWSKA: – There is no end for delight, thanks to the Euro Poland had – not including the sport loss – a great promotion success. Despite the earlier complaints of the opposition, which is being emphasized by the Civic Platform politicians with satisfaction, however, it has been successful; we all are glad about the beautiful stadiums and railway stations, even roads. But in richer countries besides praises there have also appeared sceptical comments that Poland has exaggerated slightly with the sumptuousness. Do you also think so?
THE PARLIAMNETARIAN JERZY POLACZEK: – As far as I guess, the symbol of this sumptuousness if the National Stadium…
– It is probably the most beautiful in the whole Europe!
– Maybe, because, after all, it has been built for a gigantic amount of 2 milliard zlotys! And this building still requires some inputs so that it could obtain a permission necessary for its utilization according to the law. I want to note that it has been not accounted till today; like a ‘hot potato’ between an order-giver, that is, the National Sport Centre and the sub-executors, there is still a dispute about a payment of a few hundred millions of zlotys. The symbol of building the National Stadium will also be the bankrupt of the general executor of the stadium, announced a few days before the beginning of the European Football Championships. What to comment on here!
– A discussion about the future development of the National Stadium is already starting, although with shyness. Will it be able to work for its maintenance by itself?
– Indeed, today one can predict that after the final settling any arrears there will probably be necessary a few dozen million annual grant from the state budget for maintaining of this sport building. In the initial plans it was assumed to ‘building’ the stadium around with various beneficial objects.
– Wasn’t it ‘built around’ with them?
– The works were resigned from, so the discussion about the self-financing by the National Stadium will be raised soon. Maybe it will be in Portugal so, where the stadiums built for championships turned out to be deficit because they were simply too big for the needs of those clubs and their fans.
– Whereas in Poland on the wave of enthusiasm towards the Euro there are appearing other stadiums at present, also in many smaller cities, although it is known in advance that they will be too big for the needs…Mr parliamentarian, football is becoming an objective reason of the Polish existence?
– Yes, today it looks ridiculous! In the governmental propaganda, football is a reference point to nearly everything, and, first of all, for this policy whose essence is to buy holy peace and time…. Nobody from the government does not care about or analyses results that it happens at the cost of a high growth of the debts of public finances and putting off those matters and tasks which really – and not only through showing beautiful stadiums to the world – decide about the development and civilizational progress of Poland. The spheres are neglected in: family, demography, development of the employment market, realistic presence of the country where people need it the most. For example, it is being planned to liquidate a few hundred police stations in districts. The government of the Civic Platform and the Polish People’s Alliance is clearly conducting the policy, in which there are attempts to give the society ‘laxative herb tea’ without waking it up!
– And the pleased nation is dreaming only the football power; after all it has 4 big stadiums! Were these really investments so essential for only one football holiday?
– In the case of Wrocław, Poznań and Gdańsk one can assume and hope that buildings will serve there to thousands fans of local league teams. In Warsaw the situation is more complicated…If one made a cold analysis of the condition of the Polish football, one can say that these championships rather support the prognosis of pessimists about the future of big Polish sport objects, especially the National Stadium. And, by the way, everyone of us should receive today an index of sport and cultural events in this object one year in advance…
– Therefore a political interference in the matter of such an ‘independent’ creation is needed, which is the Polish Football Association, because the repair of the Polish football will justify the future existence of these big stadiums?
– Yes. After all, this organisation has an influence on the state of the sport discipline, so in the future it will influence the fact whether these objects will be possible to maintain or not. It is a very essential dependence. Not the opposition but the economic newspapers were alarming during the football championships that the elimination of the Polish representation had had a factual influence on the decrease of some share courses in some market companies, so it was transferred onto economy. This dependence was visible with a bare eye in trade and services which were directed specially onto only this sport event.
– Somehow, especially for the Euro 2012 roads were built as well. The government pointed out to the pessimistic predictions of your party in this matter – because fans got there without any difficulties!
– If the standard of the government is not about finishing highway connections to Polish host cities and ‘possibility of travelling’ of the A2 only for passengers’ cars, I wish the politicians of the Civic Platform a good well-being and self-satisfaction. I will recall that during over four and a half years the office of Donald Tusk did not manage to build the A4 highway to the border with Ukraine, the A1 or A2 highways were not connected with Gdansk, the construction of connecting the express road S5 between Poznań and Wrocław was ‘put away’ beyond the horizon of the year 2020. Let the present government look at its declarations from the year 2010. Nothing goes here with the law and order between official declarations and today’s reality which has verified it brutally.
– After the Euro there still remains finishing and repairing unfinished roads. It is going to be easier or more difficult, if there is no more impulse in the form of a prestigous date?
– It is going to be more difficult. The rate of debts of the National Road Fund is predicted to be 43 milliard zlotys in the end of 2012! In governmental documents connected with inputs for road investments in 2013, a decrease to 7 milliard zlotys was predicted (from over 20 milliard!). Finishing the set of these investments, which were included in a program prepared by the Law and Justice party for building national roads in the years 2008-2012 – ridiculed by the Civic Platform as hardly ambitious and in the program of this party in 2007 fulfilled with additional dozens new tasks, which later…were excluded in a non-precedential way – is going to be very problematic now.
– As a consequence of the governmental model created around building of the roads for the Euro, today we have a ‘fire’ of the whole sector of building companies – gigantic financial problems, bankruptcies, dangers of bankruptcies for some other highway and express investments and the exclusions of executors from the building sector. So far it has happened so in the building area of the A1 near Toruń and A4 near Rzeszów, and earlier between Brzesko and Wierzchosławice where contracts were dissolved by the General Directors of National Roads and Highways or by the very executors. These are only the signs of coming problems and many processes of building companies with the government.
– And all this because of the fact that there were attempts to build modern highways ‘for half a price’…
– Yes. We were paying attention to it two years ago, when many contracts were signed for building highways within the model ‘do projects and build’ for 50-60 percent of the starting price list when the previous Infrastructure Ministry and the management of the General Directors of National Roads and Highways thoughtlessly announced ‘successes’ – how many milliard zlotys ‘had been saved’. It stopped at the point, that not only are there not many expected investments, but a part of road and building market in Poland was done away with in a rude manner. For example, in Portugal and Spain, by realising programs of building road and railway infrastructure - a good competitive position of one’s companies was built. In Poland it happened exactly the other way round! And if the Polish government was pursuing a responsible policy, many Polish companies could work not only in Poland in the nearest time, but also in the building sector abroad.
– Whereas in Poland roads were unsuccessfully built by the Chinese…
– Not only, in the previous years contracts were also signed with, for example, a company from Macedonia – for building the A4 highway – which was, later, excluded from construction, and which, with the respect to this small country, is not rather a powerful country in the European road-building. In this respect I can ask a question: what is it about in this ill model of giving governmental orders….sometimes freely?
– When it is not known what it is about, it is always about money…
– About the money spent from our budget. On the one hand, the government assures that it wants to save the money and therefore, as it says, it is conducting a business game towards the building market to its state order of a highway, and on the other hand- the same team gave us a guarantee of 4 milliard euro during the last four years, for building 2 segments of private highways: Świecko – NowyTomyśł and Grudziądz –Toruń. 100 per cents of loans taken by private operators were covered by governmental guarantees! According to my knowledge, the amount of extra payments for private highways which is to be paid this year by the government to concessionaires on the A1 highway (Gdańsk – Toruń) and on A2 highway (Świecko – NowyTomyśl), will exceed 1.3 milliard zlotys this year.
– Maybe, hence, a necessity of drastic savings on other segments?
– It is difficult to say, we are rather dealing here with a kind of strange governmental schizophrenia. Here milliards of euro are easily guaranteed and in the second place realistic costs of investments are ignored or decreased. The logics of the government is best illustrated by the pronouncement of the Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak from the end of this February who announced publicly a few weeks before the bankruptcy of the DSS company that this company is in a good condition and he trusts it and that it fulfils its duties very well. The reality was different but for a few dozen hours somebody earned again at the cost of a temporary growth of market quotes of this bankruptcy.
– However, the government is full of optimism, also in the matter of Polish roads and nothing will probably change this positive thinking (supported by the successful Euro)…
– The slogan: warm water in a tap and grill as well as football – are a ‘public’ possession of this government. Only there have recently been more railway catastrophes somehow…
– Will pessimistic point of view of the Law and Justice party about the bad quality of roads built hastily and ‘for half a price’ also turn out to be a reality?
– It has already turned out so! Road embankments and the foundation of silt loam were done somewhere sparingly and building of roads from clay ….., in another place from broken toilets….And in addition it is more and more known that in fact the costs of these investments will not be low at all. I ask: what results from it for people and drivers in the sphere of quality when we sum up 1.4 milliard zlotys! (in the years 2008-2012) spent via made contracts with companies supervising the investments of executors? The time will show.
– It will and at present the built roads – which during the construction was found out by journalists than those controlling services – will rather be of poor quality and with a short expiry date….
– Yes. The road boomerang will come back and hit the country, when in a few years we will have to spend extra milliards not only on maintenance but also on necessary repairs and rebuilding roads. The consequence of signing a big part of contracts ‘for half a price’ is the effect from a lower European shelf. In a few months on these built highways fees for travelling will be taken from drivers…
– However, for now we can be still glad with some new roads, after the Euro we will also have a few nice railway stations…
– The railways stations are a realistic namecard of the country, indeed and it is good that at least a few of them were possible to improve. It is not known whether the government would have decided to make an effort if not for the Euro. Rather not, which is seen through a miserable state of the whole railway infrastructure hidden behind their façade. It is just possible to see the façade of this ‘civilisation jump’ of Poland in the poor condition of railway in Poland and dramatic low using European means – as if not to evaluate the historically biggest EU financial means for Poland in the years 2007 – 2013. The government of Donald Tusk still has 20 milliard euro negotiated with the European Commission through the government of Jarosław Kaczyński, from the European means for the modernisation of roads, railway and airports, that is, the amount of money which is a few dozen times higher than the government in which I had a function of the Transport Minister.
– Do you envy your successors a bit?
– No, but it is sorrowful that this manna from the Heaven has happened to this weak governmental team of the Civic Platform, one would feel like repeating the words to the team of Donald Tusk now: how long, boys, do you want to play football?! After all, the final match has finished.