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37 (132) 2018
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Chairman and CEO Note

A year behind, a year ahead

By Antoni F. Reczek OBE and Paweł Siwecki
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Antoni Reczek, chairman of the board, and Paweł Siwecki, CEO, look back at highlights of 2018 year and what’s ahead of us next year.

At the executive level, we committed our time last summer to redevelop the chamber’s strategy, adjust our priorities and put structural changes in motion.

It all started with operational efficiency. The BPCC team spent three days outside of the office in May, challenging every area of our operations, to select and focus on areas of excellence and value-adding services. Every aspect was analysed, from our membership services, to our regional operations and policy groups work, from media to admin. We compared the BPCC and what we offer to members with that of the other major foreign chambers of commerce present in Poland. In particular, the strength of our Chamber stems from the practical business insights that come from peer-to-peer contacts across our 12 policy group areas and across job function.

The next phase of our strategy exercise looked at our future development. In particular, our Get Connected with Poland campaign was born. We created a formal structure around something we’ve been doing from the outset – creating a network of business services to attract and support British and international investors to Poland via the BPCC’s channels. After a successful launch in November, in the New Year a new dynamic communication platform will interact with the world. The incoming business will generate business opportunities for our B2B members and will serve investors in a one-stop shop. We encourage members who offer B2B services to share them through getconnected@bpcc.org.pl. When you get connected, we hope you stay connected and refresh your offer as it evolves!

Operational highlights and new developments have been consulted with the board of directors which has taken the lead in the area of structural change, reorganising the BPCC into a Polish legal entity. At present the BPCC, an English company limited by guarantee, owns the entire share capital of a Polish company, Brytyjsko-Polskie Usługi Sp. z o. o (BPU), through which most of the chamber’s activities are carried out. This structure is expensive to administer; it requires dual reporting and accounting in the UK and Poland. There is also the currency risk; the Chamber derives most of its income in Polish złotys, but reporting in sterling and preparing consolidated accounts for the group adds to costs, delivering no extra value for members. This model dates back to the birth of the Chamber in 1993 and the time has come for change. An Extraordinary Annual Meeting of BPCC members was held on 30 October, at which the overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of the resolution whereby the BPCC company limited by guarantee is to be liquidated and an employer’s federation (under Polish law) will be established to replace it. The restructuring work has started and a full report will be delivered to members at the Annual General Meeting on 25 April 2019, where you will be asked to ratify the changes, so please save the date!

Part of the legal restructuring means that starting from 1 January 2019, all membership invoicing will go through Brytyjsko-Polskie Usługi Sp. z o. o (BPU), removing the need for the issuing UK tax -residency certificates. Membership fees remain unchanged and all our efforts continue to be focused on delivering value for money approach. This will remain regardless of the overall decision.

There is a busy year ahead of us. However regretful Brexit is to most of us, it will make your lives more difficult. The sad and chaotic sight of the UK government and other senior politicians unable to deliver an efficient and optimal Brexit means that just a few short months before the UK is due to leave the EU, we still have no idea of the trading and business environment that we will face after 29 March 2019. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit will cause chaos and its impact will be felt immediately. If the preliminary exit agreement can be approved in Parliament, then there may be some time for cooler heads to prevail and we will have a better outcome that will enable us to prepare and adapt to the new reality. Whatever happens, we will need to be fast and flexible in our reactions to some of the resolutions that will come unless a miracle happens and Brexit is abandoned. We can only hope. Christmas is the time for miracles!

The BPCC takes over the presidency of International Group of Chambers of Commerce starting 1 :July. In Poland, European and parliamentary elections in 2019 will add additional significance to a year that we can already call ‘historic’.

Last but certainly not least, we wish everyone a very enjoyable time with family and friends during Christmas, and a very happy New Year!

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