Making a stand

The campaign against the 22 per cent VAT on flats owed its success to a large extent, to Polski Związek Firm Deweloperskich (the Polish Union of Developers), who are currently trying to prevent an equally high tax on building sites.

The key objectives set out by PZFD are to improve the situation in housing construction and then, in development. They strive to represent the interests of housing developers both in Poland and abroad, foster a respectable image for those firms and finally, protect the rights of their members.

Preparing the case
They fulfil these goals by an internationally accepted method in the modern world: lobbying, which they pursue with the assistance of a special PR agency. "We gather the knowledge and then prepare the arguments which we use in negotiations with MP's and civil servants," says Andrzej Halicki of the PZDF management board, who simultaneously works for GGK Public Relations.
It was precisely this approach to protecting their interests, which was so effective during the campaign against the introduction of the 22 per cent VAT on flats. Together with specialists, the union got hold of documents which contradicted the government's argument, that the proposed tax level was standard in the EU.
"We also employed analysis which confirmed that higher VAT wouldn't guarantee substantial budget revenue. This was when we became a useful partner for the Sejm's commissions and ministries," says Halicki.

An effective presence
Halicki is convinced that without an exchange of perspectives between the development sector and decision-makers, there cannot be fair and objective laws.
Members of PZFD are already working to maintain the negotiated 7 per cent VAT on flats after 2007, when the law expires, as well as on the next proposal of vital importance to the housing market, i.e. the imposition of 22 per cent VAT on building sites. They are also actively participating in a debate on the Construction Payment Guarantees Act and the question of badly-drafted contracts between supposed unreliable developers and clients. They also want to negotiate with those banks who are unwilling to finance the housing sector. "We are going to have a meeting with the Polish Banking Union. We'll propose some procedures which can verify companies' trustworthiness and establish information channels, so that developers are no longer afraid of banks and vice versa," said Halicki.