“We regret to inform you that from September 21, the Attraction will be permanently closed” – this is an entry from a well-known restaurant in Wrocław. District Saigon, also from Wrocław, is also closing. Azzurro from Gdańsk also did not stand up to the current situation, just like Wegarnik from Legnica. Examples can be multiplied and multiplied.
Restaurants usually go to the fore in times of crisis. This time, the situation is even more difficult – because even if a place can still count on customers, the energy bills growing at an amazing pace are a huge challenge.
However, two years ago, at the beginning of the lockdowns, gastronomy was actually frozen overnight, but the government’s reaction was almost immediate. Government shields appeared immediately and the aid to entrepreneurs was quite generous. Polish business survived this crisis, though not without losses. It could be otherwise without shields.
So why is the government now proposing no shields? There is talk at most about the support of energy-intensive companies, but small and medium-sized entrepreneurs feel left to their fate. Anyway, even this support for energy-intensive companies is to amount to approx. PLN 5 billion. Not much compared to over PLN 230 billion that was spent on covid shields.
– The government is against the wall today – there are no ideas how to effectively help entrepreneurs – says Dr. Sławomir Dudek, the chief economist of FOR, to Business Insider. However, he adds, the most prosaic reason is also crucial: there is simply no money.
– We have inflation, war in Ukraine, energy crisis, zloty fluctuations – in short, a tangle of very bad trends, “perfect storm”, as Americans say. I am afraid that this may be a crisis comparable to that of the 1970s – adds the expert.
While in 2020 the government could still find funds to help entrepreneurs, now unexpected expenses have fallen on it. After Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, Poland began to arm itself very quickly. And this consumes enormous amounts of money.
– I’m afraid that many companies will go bankrupt now, including those that got money from covid shields. So you can say that we will lose double from this. Troubled times, unfortunately, always have their victims, just as the crisis of the 1970s buried fuel-hungry cars with huge engines – adds the economist.
One of the entrepreneurs we spoke to cannot grasp this policy either. – The covid support was generous, at one point they even gave 5,000. PLN for entrepreneurs. So what were these shields for when they now let companies fail? It doesn’t make any sense, she says.
Do companies have a chance to help?
Chief economist of Employers of the Republic of Poland, Kamil Sobolewski, admits that the mood in Polish business is terrible. He notes that at the time of the beginning of the pandemic, there was still a belief that “the crisis is an opportunity”. Now, he says, desperation, or even signs of surrender, is more palpable. It can therefore be expected that entries about closing companies – not only restaurants – will be arriving at an avalanche pace.
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Or maybe the government will get some aces out of its sleeve after all? Sławomir Dudek doubts. As he says, the government, by largely getting into debt, can find money that will help the PiS electorate survive.
“I mean all those inflation targets, fourteen and so on. Some PLN 100 billion a year is spent on this. Except they’re all painkillers that won’t cure the real disease. Because the energy crisis will not end in six months, it will probably be with us for several years – he says.
In his opinion, simply transferring money to entrepreneurs – analogous to covid shields – would also be pointless now. Because you can help the company once, but what if the bills will increase even more in a year and the company will not survive it anyway.
Is it possible to do anything now? Dr. Dudek from FOR believes that it is necessary to invest – although still late – in the energy transformation. Only this will allow companies to pay less for energy as a consequence.
– The government should now focus on the energy transformation, and companies could be greatly helped by KPO funds, especially since they would not burden the budget. However, there is no serious transformation, and neither is there any money from the KPO, believes Dudek.
National Reconstruction Plan has already been accepted by Brussels, but there are still no disbursements. The problem for the EU authorities is the lack of satisfactory – in their opinion – changes in the Polish judicial system. However, in order to bring about such changes, conflicts in this matter in the United Right would have to stop. This, however, does not seem to be happening.
Would billions from KPO save small and medium-sized enterprises? It is doubtful, but still a gigantic injection of cash, also intended for “green” investments, could give entrepreneurs a lot of hope. And it would probably stabilize the rate of our currency a bit.
– By the way – the rulers say that they were almost the only ones in Europe who predicted Putin’s unpredictability and expected that everything could end in an energy crisis. Why then have they not prepared us for it? Why were they withholding renewable energy and not reacting to the fact that we are dependent on coal from Russia? – wonders Dudek.
Wrocław entrepreneurs are closing a restaurant, but this is not the end of their troubles
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs think less about big politics. Rather, they think how to survive. And there are also those who only wonder how to pay off their debts. The owners of the Green Bus restaurant from Wrocław had to close the restaurant and are now conducting a fundraiser to help them get out of the 150,000 debt. So far, Internet users have already paid them over 50,000. zloty.
Author: Mateusz Madejski, journalist at Business Insider Polska