GB No. 3(22)/96


Our calculations show that for about the next 10 years, income from highways will not even cover the interest from all the money borrowed for their construction. One does not think about repaying the main debt. If our business forecast is correct, the highways will start paying for themselves after 25 years. I cannot think of a single investor in the world who would accept such conditions.

Mieczysław Lewandowski
Managing Director of the Office of
"Autostrady Gdańskie" Consortium

[in:] "Gazeta Bankowa", 14 Aug.'96

During the last twelve months (from July '95 till July '96) the turnover of Eurotunnel amounted to only $550 million, while the sum of interest due is about $1.2 million yearly (...) In France, more and more often, one hears about another possible solution: taking into consideration the political importance of the Channel tunnel (...) France and Great Britain may commonly decide to nationalize it.

Bankructwo coraz bliżej
[in:] "Rzeczpospolita" 8 Aug. 1996

The above citations clearly show that, in the case of highways, we are going to take a well-known path. Private firms will be awarded construction orders and then the State, that is we all, will undertake their financial obligations towards international financial institutions, like for example EBOIR, where Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, a former prime minister, is a member of the Board of Directors. It turns out that the Polish state not only meets extra charges of the cost of petrol for better-off citizens from taxes paid by poorer ones (its present costs do not cover real costs; called external costs in economics slang), but is also going to build highways for them. Simultaneously, the same State cares neither for commonly accessible roads, as "it does not pay" (according to the Polityka transportowa document, present investments make up only 33 per cent of those from the past ten years) nor for railway or public transportation: in these two scopes of activities the State quotes the iron rules of the market economy. For seven years now nothing which serves all citizens has seemed to be worth while.

On the other hand, everything that serves the interests of corporations owned by businessmen closely connected with the State, pays. I do hope that MPs of The Union of Liberty (the original plan of the highway's construction was worked out by Mrs. Suchocka's government) will show their commitment to the rules of the free market (as they no longer can count on posts in The Agency of Construction and Utilization of Highways) and will, in their questions, ask Mr. Patalas and Liberadzki what will be the share of the State in this investment and will make the answer known to the public in the columns of, for example "Gazeta Wyborcza".

Public opinion in Poland is convinced that the construction of highways is going to be a private investment. I may only add that during a meeting with the representatives of The World Bank in June, I was told by one of them the same thing I had heard from Mr Lewandowski; that highways in Poland are an unprofitable investment. I also know, from so called unofficial, but reliable sources, that an inner analysis of the PHARE fund says exactly the same. One should demand its disclosure and ask why, in such a case, the PHARE fund supports the construction of highways. Maybe again, like the EBOIR case, it is a matter of justifying the sense of its own existence, the consequences of which will be held by Polish tax-payers. Or maybe we may find the answer in another citation, this time of Mr Liberadzki: "Soon we will be constructing a net of motorways, twice the length of the highways. The generation of today's experts as well as next generations will have much work to do. ("Polityka", No.30 of 27 July '96). After them, even the floods may come.

Olaf Swolkień

GB No. 3(22)/96 | Contents