Finances will become a mess
The economic situation in Poland will worsen sharply this year
Aleksandr Lukashenko determined what the year 2023 would be like for Belarusians in St. Petersburg on December 26th last year — ‘the happiest, the most successful’. However, such a forecast cannot be applied to our unfriendly neighbours, especially Western ones. Deciding to play a sanctions war against Belarus and Russia, they hit their fingers with an economic sledgehammer, and now they are frantically trying to understand how it happened. The answer is really quite simple: he that mischief hatches, mischief catches. It is a pity that the meaning of this proverb is apparently not fully understood in the West.
Losses from a sweet couplePerhaps, the consequences of the ill-considered policy of Western leaders are most clearly visible on the example of an ordinary citizen of Poland. If Germany, France and some other European states approached the crisis with a small margin of safety (albeit quite worn out during the COVID-19 lockdowns), then Poland, with its eternal Anti-Belarusian and Anti-Russian sentiment, began to suffer losses right after the sanctions thunder struck. As a result, by the end of the year, the sweet couple in the person of Duda and Morawiecki led the country to the worst economic performance in at least the last 30 years.
The increase in food prices has become one of the main triggers for Poles’ dissatisfaction with their authorities in 2022, and there are no grounds for optimism in this area in the coming year either. Economists believe that inflation in Poland could rise sharply up to 20 percent already in February.
Over the past 12 months, the price of food in Polish retail stores has risen by an average of 25.8 percent. There were cases when individual goods rose in price by 80-100 percent. By the way, the reaction, or, rather, its absence, to such a sensitive problem for society on the part of political elites is indicative. For comparison, when facts of unreasonable overpricing were revealed in Belarus last autumn, this became the reason for a tough trial at the highest level and a legislative ban on increasing the cost of goods. Thus, the problem was solved. In Poland, however, such a useful experience was arrogantly turned away...
Price collapseExperts and influential media, even those who support the current course of the ruling party, unanimously declare that another price hike awaits Poland in the near future. According to the Rzeczpospolita publication, the main impact of the upcoming rise in prices will fall on dairy products and vegetable fats, the price of which will immediately rise by 20-30 percent. In addition, experts expect an increase in the cost of vegetables and fruits, and the price of imported products will jump the most.
The reasons for the rise in prices remain unchanged and are directly related to the thoughtless sanctions policy of Warsaw: a significant rise in the price of electricity and gas, as well as rising fuel prices resulted in problems with logistics.
In addition, a new law that increases the minimum wage added some headache to manufacturers. Enterprises in crisis, obeying the law, fall into a vicious circle of serious increase in costs.
Too many Ocean’sAn increase in the number of shoplifting is a completely natural reaction of society in response to rising prices. According to official statistics, the number of theft facts recorded by the police increased by a third from January to October last year compared to the same period in 2021. Most often, thieves coveted food, alcohol, cigarettes and consumer electronics. At the same time, grocery stores accounted for 50.4 percent of all crimes of this kind.
However, in fact, there is little fun in the situation. Police statistics show that the proportion of elderly people among thieves has seriously increased over the past year. Polish pensioners are rapidly getting poorer, and many are simply not able to pay their checks that are getting heavier day by day.
The reckless support of Ukraine, the sanctions clinch with the Union State and the costly militarisation carried out by official Warsaw give unfortunate people no choice but to steal what they could have recently acquired.
It would seem that what is happening speaks of a serious crisis in Polish society and downright requires the adoption of urgent measures.
In fact, the reaction of the authorities turned out to be very original: Duda signed an amendment to the Criminal Code, which raises the threshold for decriminalisation of theft.
Previously, a person could get a maximum of 30 days of arrest for stolen goods in the amount of up to 500 zlotys, and anything higher ‘was estimated’ at five or more years in prison. Now the threshold has been raised to 800 zlotys. This will be a real disaster for shop owners, especially small ones.
In the end it is ordinary people who sufferThe key element of the new crisis on the West lies its system and complexity. Problems have affected not only the sphere of energy or industry — chaos affects all aspects of life without exception. Partly to blame for this is the high degree of globalisation of the current world order, but this happened mostly due to the excessive zeal of the authorities in imposing sanctions against Belarus and Russia.
Poland gives us an example of just such an explosive mixture. Serious dependence on cheap Russian energy resources, on the one hand, and dense Anti-Russian sentiment, on the other, created an explosive cocktail that was not slow to explode after the start of the special military operation.
One of the logical results of the refusal of Russian gas was problems with heating.
Perhaps, oats are the most unusual type of fuel that burns in Polish stoves in times of crisis. The efficiency of this type of fuel is in question, but given the rising price of gas, firewood and other energy sources, some Poles have few alternatives.
Of course, residents of the border regions with Belarus periodically go to our country at least for pellets, but they are mercilessly intimidated on the other side of the border — they spread ridiculous rumours and print all sorts of nonsense in the media. Take, for example, the work of Paulina Siegien, the publicist of the Krytyka Polityczna publication. She proudly admits that she dissuaded her friend from going to Belarus for fuel in a publication on the matter. Apparently, sincerely believing that she actually saved a friend.
Towards the stormThe coming year 2023 is unlikely to please ordinary Poles with good news. The political elites have a stranglehold on the topic of the Ukrainian conflict and are determined to continue the escalation, as evidenced by Warsaw’s aggressive campaign to push through the supply of NATO tanks to Kiev, and to militarise Poland itself.
A rise in prices, acceleration of inflation and impoverishment of the population will inevitably lead to a further increase in social tension. Now the Polish police are under serious pressure due to the increase in the number of thefts and the increase in Ukrainian ethnic crime — however, 2023 may well be the year for them to face a real social explosion. However, it is unlikely to sweep Duda and Morawiecki out of their chairs, but it will certainly be able to thoroughly shake the positions of the elites.
Huge spending on new weapons, coupled with the expansion of the army and the principled refusal to make any compromises with Russia, shape very unsightly prospects for the future of the economy of our western neighbour.
By Anton Popov