The future of Polish infrastructure through the eyes of experts.

On 11th February at the Sheraton Hotel in Warsaw fifth edition of the national conference “Poland Infrastructure” took place. The event was organized by the Executive Club under the auspices of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. Leaders of companies from the infrastructure sector and public administration representatives summed up the past year and discussed the challenges for the sector in the future.

Recurring meeting organized by the Executive Club for the infrastructure sector for the fifth time brought together a significant number of leaders of companies involved in the development of the sector and directly involved in the implementation of strategic infrastructure projects. The guests were welcomed by Marek Michałowski, Chairman of the Executive Club, who summarized the year 2013, pointing out why it was a very special year. The ending budgeting prospect for 2007-2013 required an exceptional mobilization of the industry, and yet there were numerous problems with the use of allocated funds. At the same time, despite the huge amount of work undertaken, sales began to fall and it was a difficult year. According to Marek Michałowski it was also a year of opportunities. A smaller number of tenders forced to reflect on the necessary amendments, improvement of law and procedural improvements. Optimism in infrastructure ranks brought another perspective of the EU budget , which, thanks to effective negotiations of the Polish government, is considered a success. The next years give us hope to improve the dynamics of the Polish infrastructure for further development and systematic catching up.

Summary by the eyes of the public administration was presented at the opening by Stanislaw Żmijan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure. Particularly important in the eyes of Żmijan were two areas of activity – practical implementation of road projects, as well as new regulations related to environmental protection to improve the implementation of the next infrastructure projects.

In the first panel, dedicated particularly to the development of the procurement law, was attended by Robert Audsley – Head of the Engineering Center Program Crossrail, CH2M HILL; Dariusz Blocher – President of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, Budimex; Rafał Jędrzejewski – Director of the Legal Department of the Public Procurement Office; Wojciech Kowalewski – Member of the Management Board of Siemens AG z o.o., Head of Legal and Compliance, Stanislaw Żmijan – Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure. The discussion was moderated by Grzegorz Banasiuk of Gide Loyrette Nouel.

Discussion on the legal aspects of the infrastructure was particularly lively, as representatives of the companies involved in investment in the current legal system, as well as representatives of entities shaping legislation in this area have a very strong position. The perspective on public procurement on both sides is full of discrepancies. The legal status is being changed by adopted by the parliament public procurement directives, and work on updates to 5 acts, having impact on the infrastructure industry are a great contribution to the discussion.

The expected changes and desired directions for amending rights from the perspective of companies pursuing investments, among other topics, spoke Dariusz Blocher, President of the Board at Budimex, stressing that legislator’s declarations are not enough. Assessing the current shape of the Public Procurement Act Dariusz Blocher pointed emphatically: “I met with the opinion that everything so far we have managed to build in Poland, was built on the basis of an event or special act, special regulaations. I do appreciate our law on public procurement from the perspective of a construction company and general contractor. If I could recommend something, I would suggest to write it from scratch. Let’s do it but really with the consultation of the wider industry, which is involved in the process.”

Second panel – “Time to hit the road” in the composition – Slawomir Barczak – Board Member, Mota- Engil Central Europe, Jon Harding – Head of Programme Implementation , Halcrow (A- one + ), Thomas Kite – expert and conciliator FIDIC Association of Engineers Appraisers and Consultants , Zbigniew Rynasiewicz – Secretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, Lech Witecki – General Director , General Directorate for National Roads and Highways, discussed the road investments . The moderator of the panel was Józef Zubelewicz, CEO at ERBUD S.A.

The second part of the conference, including another two panel discussions was dedicated to the financing of rail and road investments and the future of both of these important branches. The discussion was attended by: panel III “Financing investments in rail and road” Maciej Korbasiewicz (moderator ) – President of the Board at Bolix S.A., Mariusz Grendowicz – President, Polish Development Investments S.A., Adam Świrski – Vice-President of the Board, National Economy Bank; Krzysztof Mleczak – President of the Board at Exito Broker, Michał Ulatowski – Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at TORPOL S.A., Wołowiec Alexander, Member of the Board of PKP PLK, Director of the preparation of the implementation of the new financial perspective. Panel IV “Take any train … ” was attended by: moderator: Jan Roliński – Partner at Wierciński, Kwiecinski, Baehr, Krzysztof Celiński – Director of CH2M HILL (Halcrow Group Sp. Branch in Poland); Nicolas Halamek – Managing Director, Alstom Transport in Poland and Ireneusz Wasilewski – Managing Director, Resource Management, PKP CARGO S.A.

The summary of the conference was the last panel “Consent builds, discord ruins”, which was designed in the shape of a “Round Table”, in which representatives of the contracting companies and entities implementing and financing orders sought optimal cooperation strategies for private and public sectors.

Observations from a perspective of a company with rich experience in Western markets, which invests in infrastructure in Poland, were presented by Manuel Mota, CEO of Mota- Engil Central Europe. Comparing the legal situation in Portugal and in our country, Manuel Mota said: “between the two countries I can see major differences. In Portugal, usually a contract between the public and private contracting contractor consists of 2-3 pages and is fully subject to the law on public procurement. In Poland, there is a mix of solutions , in some cases you need to intervene in the civil courts , other references consider various offices etc . We Definitely need to simplify the process and put clearer rules of conduct in place”.

Discussion showed that both parties are aware of the need for change and have specific ideas on how to make them . We have therefore hope that investment in infrastructure will be implemented more efficiently and faster, and the industry will record better results .