The announced draft of the new act will hand over to investors a revolutionary investment tool, in the form of the planned Polish Investment Zone. The prepared regulations mean the expansion of the area of special economic zones from 14 locations of up to 312 000 square kilometres in total - an area covering the whole territory of the country, without any exceptions. The presented changes have been created mainly with Polish entrepreneurs and investors in mind. As the Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced at the 27. Economic Forum in Krynica, this ambitious plan includes the introduction of regulations concerning the establishment of the Polish Investment Zone in 2018.
The Special Economic Zones have had a key influence on investment activities in the country over the last 20 years and due to their participation poorer areas with low economic potential successfully fought unemployment, which translated into a rapid development of these areas. The proposed changes will include favourable SEZ solutions for taxpayers as well as they will eliminate the identified problems related to the functioning on the territory of SEZ. In other words, the changes are to be made primarily because of the need to adapt aid to today's reality.
Scope of the changes
In addition to the above mentioned changes concerning the extension of the area where tax preferences will apply, the time period of the existing support of the programme for investors will also be changed. Compared to other countries, the SEZ instrument is less attractive, taking into account its duration (9 years of the income tax exemption in Poland). The legislator intends to introduce a solution extending the duration of the support for 10-15 years and additionally for another 5 years in the case of entities operating on the territory of the current SEZ.
The companies managing the new instrument will also be affected by the changes. Specially created managing companies, due to their knowledge, will be able to help in effective decision making. At the same time, these companies will act as the main contact points in a given region - particular poviats will be served by the designated managing companies. The unification of the scope of responsibility and service will facilitate investors' actions and shorten the time of waiting for the administrative decision.
The draft also develops classifications of the criterion of receiving the support. The tax preferences will depend on three basic, but at the same time clear and legible matters:
- Location of the investment
- Nature of the investment
- Quality of the created jobs.
The tax exemption instrument will only be available for new investments which meet the definition of the European Commission and include the creation of a new production plant and reinvestment. In addition, the legislator also mentions a quantitative criterion which depends on the unemployment rate in the poviat and the size of the company, and a quality criterion - taking into account the assumptions of the RDS (Responsible Development Strategy) in the areas of:
- Structural development
- Scientific development
- Sustainable development
- Human resources development.
"The investment project may receive max. 10 points for compliance with the RDS. The quality criteria will be met once the threshold of 60% has been reached. In the case of investments located in the areas with a public aid intensity of 35% (areas belonging to the following voivodships: Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lubuskie, Łódzkie, Małopolskie, Opolskie, Pomorskie, Świętokrzyskie, Zachodniopomorskie and in the areas belonging to the following subregions: Ciechanowsko-Płocki, Ostrołecko-Siedlecki, Radomski and Eastern Warsaw subregion) or the areas indicated in the "Programme for Silesia” (Polish "Program dla Śląska”), the threshold is reduced from 60% to 50%. In the case of investments located in the areas with the public aid intensity of 50% (voivodships: Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Podlaskie), the threshold is reduced from 60% to 40%."
The legislator distinguishes three main spheres of benefits from the planned changes:
The changes aim at increasing a competitiveness of Poland in comparison to other countries and this should attract new potential investors.
Future of the SEZ
It is planned that the Act of 20 October 1994 on Special Economic Zones will remain in force until the end of 2026. The old principals can be applied until the end of 2017, but after that date, the new regulations are scheduled to come into force.