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Grzegorz Kolodko to the civil society of Ukraine: Do it YOURSELF

Oleksandr Yaroshchuk / European space

Grzegorz Kołodko, a Polish professor of economics and a former Polish Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, who played a leading role in achieving the entry of Poland into the European Union, has answered our questions on the role of civil society in Poland and Ukraine

- What was the role of civil society in reformatting Poland? How civil society organizations helped you and your ministry to implement reforms? 

- I was 4 times Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland. And being the finance minister I gave a great attention to the social communication. There was not a single week, when I was in the government, when I was not visiting some part of my country, meeting the people from different social groups, talking why I am doing what I am doing. 

One of economist has published in 1996 a book called “How Russia became a market economy?”. And he wrote that Russia is a market economy, but society do not see this. I said him “your are wrong: if people don’t understand what is market economy, therefore it is not a market economy because understanding of the rules of the game is a must. Market economy must be understand by the people. And here social communication is very important. 

- Therefore, how do you think what is the role of civil society? 

- Transition is not only to market economy and to political democracy, it is also transition to new market culture and to the civil society. I don’t believe in successful market economy without proper civil society. I believe in new pragmatism where there is a room for civil society, especially in the private sector, which is oriented naturally for business, for maximization of profit, and the state sector, which takes care of the redistribution of income. Civil society here is the third pillar – all non-governmental structures, movements, organizations, - when people are taking their first. Don’t wait, neither, for the private capital which will not come to solve our problems, don’t wait for the government to clean our local park or road or to make local cultural event! Do it yourself! 

- How can you briefly characterize the state of civil society in Ukraine? 


- You do have much more of these activities (NGO structures, movements, events etc. - author), but still it is not as much developed as, for instance, in Austria, or in Finland, or in Canada. So, even in Poland we have a long way to go. 

- So, what have you did when you were a minister? 

“I’ve done a trick, that 1 per cent of Personal Income Tax (PIT) we can give not to the government – to the central budget, - but to NGOs”. 

- But these NGOs must be, first of all, properly registered; am I right? 


“Yes, they must be registered. Then in the Ministry, we are discussing each April to whom we gonna to give 1 per cent of my PIT. Given the money to these social organizations helps people to think in a different way: “We are given just 1 per cent, but not the government”. 


“It was a push, a financial encouragement to support civil society, which is indispensable part of social market economy. I think that if you want to succeed, if you want to have a prosperous country, and there is a potential, you have to take care as much for private property, private entrepreneurship, state regulation, as for the civil society. They work together”.

 





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Puss  |  22-11-2016
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