Sustainable developement of postal sector in Poland - law against politics!
Warsaw, 6th March, 2012
Sustainable development of postal sector in Poland – law against politics!
Independent operators struggling for equal rights and open competition
Legal chaos, domination, dictatorship, and dumping create the conditions in which Poland, as one of the last countries in the EU, is preparing itself for the liberalization of postal market, which is to take place on January 1, 2013. Poorly defined, poorly worded, and poorly interpreted regulations not only raise difficulties for companies operating in the postal industry, but primarily create a barrier to the Polish economic development. Costs incurred by the state budget, generated in relation to maintain the privileged position of Poczta Polska, weaken the financial condition of the country and undermine the image of Poland on the international area.
The year 2011 demonstrated that the independent postal companies have become a real competitor to the national monopolist - Poczta Polska and they significantly affect the shape and quality of this market. However, the activities of the state administration bodies as well as the operation mode of Poczta Polska reveals that private operators’ struggle for sustainable development of the postal sector in Poland does not end up with the liberalization of the market.
“The postal industry is looking forward to the coming of 2013, and thus the full market liberalization, in accordance with the provisions of Community law. However, that does not mean that operators - especially those private ones – stagnantly wait for the planned changes. We are still forced to conduct an unequal fight with Poczta Polska and the public authorities about the possibility of functioning on a competitive basis in this market. Every day, against the prevailing conditions, we strive to unify the legislation and ensure equal access for all operators to provide postal services. The introduction of new the legislation - including a clear and uniform interpretation of the of the legal provisions on tax on goods and services - are necessary regardless the forthcoming liberalization. Freeing the market at the present legal status will change little, since Poczta Polska - in a manner not eligible by us - still will benefit from its monopolistic position, while limiting development of the Polish postal sector”.
Key barriers to the development of the postal sector in Poland:
• State aid in the formof exemption of Poczta Polska from VAT on contractual services
• Lack of a coherent interpretation of the Polish and European law, maintaining the privileged position of Poczta Polska
• Poczta Polska dumping policy conducted under the laws and under the protection of public institutions
• reluctance in the preparation of the legislative process of the new Postal Law, which in turn may lead to the adoption of improper provisions, hampering development of the postal market and free competition.
„We shall do anything to make sure the standard and quality of Polish postal market would not differ from the European ones, and we believe the national operator does not provide citizens with such a guarantee. This industry, like any other can expand only in conditions of free market competition. And that is what we are fighting for”, added Rafał Brzoska, the CEO of InPost and member of OZPNOP (The Polish Association of Independent Postal Operators).
Independent postal operators are forced to modify their products and services to maintain their market position until the provisions are liberated. However, apart from considerable difficulties in the distribution of letters to 50 g - the vaguely worded provisions of the Postal Law strengthen the monopoly position and discriminate against non-public companies.
Wiesław Klimaszewski, the president of OZPNOP ensures that “The priority task of the Association of Independent Postal Operators is to fight to ensure fair and effective competition in the provision of such services for private operators. We strive primarily to approve the equal status for operators in the industry in the light of existing legislation. There is still much to do in this matter, because the struggle for Polish postal market had begun a long time before the planned liberalization, assuming that by that time the internal procedures and regulations will be standardized, and consistent with the doctrine of European law. We cannot let the poorly constructed law to be an obstacle to the competitiveness of Poland on the international arena. We believe that with the Association determination in the struggle for the postal market and the strong PKPP Lewiatan (Polish Confederation of Private Employers Lewiatan) support we will achieve our goals."
The Polish Association of Private Postal Operatorswas established in July 2010 by the private postal companies. The association has been a PKPP Lewiatan member since January 2011. Its statutory tasks include in particular:
• support initiatives of a legal and conceptual nature, aimed at building a sustainable, competitive and strong postal market
• cooperation with market regulators and policy makers in developing legal regulations on behalf of the independent postal operators and clients
• setting up and monitoring high standards of services offered by independent postal operators affiliated to the Association
The activities of private postal operators in Poland raise a particular interest due to the size of the postal market. Currently its value is estimated at PLN 7 billion. Additionally, a relatively high profitability of postal activity and high demand among the customers expecting the break of the monopoly increases the attractiveness of this sector. It is estimated that the Polish postal market serves about 1.5 billion letters. By 2013 the area reserved for the Poczta Polska, i.e. a service of consignments up to 50 g, represents about 75% of the market and generates almost half of the revenue.