A questionnaire held among the participants in the plenary session of the second day of the Eastern Economic Congress in Białystok shows that joint efforts by the Government and the region should have a key role in supporting the development of Eastern Poland in the five key areas.
The question referred to the areas of re-industrialisation, innovative companies, export, foreign investments and sustainable development. With respect to all five areas, the participants in the session had no doubts that joint efforts by the Government and the region are the most important. Over 100 respondents to the questionnaire mentioned in second place the role of government in the case of industrialisation and the role of regional government in the other four areas.
Adam Hamryszczak, undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Development, stated that Eastern Poland was given special attention in the government’s strategy for sustainable development – the strategy is now being consulted. “Development of the region will be based on its competitive advantages and intelligent specialisations already created in the region – although the list remains open”, said the deputy minister.
He stressed the planned departure from the model that has been proven wrong, consisting in supporting the largest urban centres and also entry into sustainable development covering towns, small localities and rural areas. “The strategy also includes the involvement of entrepreneurs, foreign investors and NGOs in development processes, in development processes and arrangement of projects in partnership, so that there will be less unsuccessful investments that we know of than used to happen in the past”, said Adam Hamryszczak.
Jerzy Leszczyński, Marshall of the Province of Podlasie, noted that the provinces of Eastern Poland had made progress; however, despite the great step forward they continued to lag behind the rest of Poland. “We keep chasing the rabbit”, he said. “Infrastructure remains the basis – in that category the region has been at the bottom of the priority list over the last dozen years or so. That will be the impulse and driving force for development as natural development occurs along the core transport corridors.”
In his opinion, the provinces’ revenues are quite limited, so the region is looking forward to support for the local government budgets – in order to spend money from regional operational programmes, funds have to be available for local contribution.
“I would warn the government against being over optimistic – it is impossible to provide everything for everybody. A development strategy has to identify priorities that may not cover all the activities. Sooner or later, we will pass from general declarations to specific activities and we will have to answer the question as to what our real priorities are”, said Tadeusz Truskolaski, Mayor of Białystok.
In his opinion, the plan to depart from focusing on the largest urban centres sounds positive. From the previous perspective Białystok was taken into account, as it is the 11th largest city in Poland, while support was provided to the 5-8 largest agglomerations. “It is necessary to set clear priorities and be bold enough to say that someone will be left out for the time being, since smaller centres will say “check” sooner or later”, he added.
Bohdan Paszkowski, the voivode of Podlasie, stressed the participation element in the strategy for sustainable development, providing for cooperation between local authorities and entrepreneurs. He argued in favour of partner relationships with the business sector. “When general rules are set up, it is necessary to provide for the specific features of our region and take into account the need for additional support due to the weaker starting position resulting from underdevelopment”, he appealed.