Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin praises the economic achievements of the government and argues that in recent years Poland has been one of the leaders of economic growth in Europe. We checked what the data says.
On June 17, in Miastko, Jacek Sasin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Assets, spoke about the economic successes of the Law and Justice government. He convinced about the courage and determination of the rulers, as well as the ability to finance projects. He assured that the government would not run out of money to continue the current policy. “We will not run out of this money also because we are constantly on the path of growth” – he argued.
This is also something that is envied in many European countries today. Poland is a country that for the last eight years, for most of this period, has been one of the leaders of economic growth in Europe. For most of these years, we have always been at the forefront, always in the top three of the fastest growing European countries.
Sasin’s words were posted on their own twitter profile Ministry of State Assets. Sasin went on to say that during the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the recession in many European countries reached even over a dozen percent. He emphasized that in Poland the decline in GDP “was only about two percent”. He called Poland one of the leaders of the “smallest losses” in Europe caused by the crisis. “It happened because we had the courage again, our government had the courage to say again: the invisible hand of the market will not solve everything,” he said, explaining that he meant anti-covid shields that supported enterprises.
We compared the words of Deputy Prime Minister Sasin about economic growth with Eurostat data on GDP growth in 2016-2022. Poland recorded favorable economic growth rates in comparison with other countries. In the following years, however, she was not “in the top three”.
Poland was not in the top three every year
We checked the data Eurostat on real GDP growth. When the term “economic growth” is used, it is this data that is most often invoked. Deputy Prime Minister Sasin himself cited data on the decline in GDP during the Covid crisis. Annual data available on the Eurostat website express the percentage change compared to the previous year. We checked the increases and decreases in GDP recorded in individual European Union countries in 2016-2022 and recorded Poland’s place in the ranking for each year.
In subsequent years, Poland occupied at least tenth place in the ranking of 28 countries (together with Great Britain until 2020) and 27 countries (from 2020). In 2016, with 3 percent. year-on-year GDP growth, we were ranked tenth in the European Union. In 2017, Poland was already in seventh place (5.1%), and in 2018 it was already in fourth place (5.9%). This year, GDP grew faster only in Ireland, Malta and Romania.
In 2019 (4.5%) and 2020 (-2%), Poland was ranked sixth. Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin correctly recalled the recession in Poland at minus two percent. In the light of data on GDP growth, however, the argument that “recession in many European countries reached even a dozen or so percent” is untrue. The largest among the European Union countries was in Spain (-11.3%), among all the countries of the Eurostat list – in Montenegro -15.3%. In other countries, declines were in the single digits.
In the following years, Poland’s situation in relation to other countries deteriorated – in 2021, Poland from 6.9 percent. higher GDP, it was in tenth place among EU countries year-on-year, and in 2022 (5.1%) – in ninth place. It also publishes the same data Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Economist: It’s hard to consider ranks 4 through 10 as being always at the top
Is Poland really the leader of economic growth in Europe and is Deputy Prime Minister Sasin’s assessment justified? We asked economists. “The question is what does it mean to be a leader? Let’s use the criterion of the podium, three medal places. In none of the last eight years we were on the podium in terms of GDP dynamics” – replies Dr. Małgorzata Starczewska-Krzysztoszek from the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the University of Warsaw. “It is difficult to consider positions from fourth to tenth as being always at the forefront of the fastest-growing countries” – says the economist in the analysis sent to us.
“Poland actually performs very well in GDP rankings, but we have rarely been among the top three fastest-growing economies in the EU. Over the last eight years, the average growth was 3.8 percent, which gives us the fourth result in the ranking” – says Dr. Adam Czerniak from the School Central Handlowa, chief economist of Polityka Insight. Dr. Czerniak notes that only Ireland, Malta and Cyprus developed faster in the period 2015-2022.
Who actually creates GDP? And what is the role of the government in this?
Deputy Prime Minister Sasin drew attention to the relatively small recession in Poland during the Covid crisis, and called our country one of the leaders of “the smallest losses” in Europe. He saw the reasons for the intervention of the government, which then allocated billions of zlotys to support companies affected by the crisis.
Dr. Adam Czerniak admits that government aid was of great importance, but not only. “Good economic results during the pandemic are both the result of the resistance of Polish entrepreneurs to the restrictions introduced, as well as the hundreds of billions of zlotys pumped into the economy by the government” – he notes. Czerniak also mentions the “dark side” of anti-covid shields – high inflation. “At least in part it is the result of very high aid programs during the pandemic” – the economist assesses.
“It is not the government that creates GDP, but enterprises” – argues Dr. Małgorzata Starczewska-Krzysztoszek. He estimates that Poland could boast of a much higher increase in the standard of living measured by GDP per capita or GDP dynamics, if the government did not increase uncertainty in the economy, such as the lack of the rule of law. “This limited and limits the development potential of our economy, including the willingness of companies to invest. And without investment, the chances of improving the ability to compete are decreasing year by year” – noted Dr. Starczewska-Krzysztoszek. The economist also encourages you to look at the structure of GDP growth. “In the last two years, it was achieved mainly by an increase in inventories, and these in no way create prosperity. And since 2016, the contribution of investments to GDP growth has been too low, which has limited the development potential of the Polish economy” – he assesses.
Dr. Starczewska-Krzysztoszek also notes that GDP dynamics says little about prosperity or improving the standard of living of citizens. He believes that a better measure of this is GDP per capita in purchasing power standards (PPS). “Here, despite the improvement, we are still far from the EU average” – notes the economist and quotes data. In 2015, the Polish indicator accounted for 69.3 percent. EU average, and in 2022 – 80 percent. According to this criterion, in 2022 Poland was ranked 19th among the 27 countries of the European Union.
Main photo source: Marcin Gadomski/PAP