19:12 Nov. 16, 2016
"We have met our obligations": Polish PM called her 12 months at the office as a ‘Good year'
The government has met its commitments and kept its word, Polish PM Beata Szydlo summing up her first year in office.
"The most important thing for me is that we are keeping our word, that we are meeting our commitments," stressed the PM according to state agency PAP.
She pointed to important pro-family projects which were implemented over the past year, including the "Family 500 Plus" social benefit programme, the raising of the minimum wage, and free medicines for senior citizens as well as the Plan of Responsible Development.
The PM pointed out that the "500 Plus" scheme is her government's flagship programme.
"We have decided that this year we would come up with draft laws which would first of all support families and eliminate differences between regions, between social groups. We are rising out of poverty, we are offering Polish families a decent life, stabilisation and safety," Szydlo assures.
According to the PM, her government has coped well with challenges such as the organisation of the World Youth Day event in Krakow and the NATO summit in Warsaw: "We have shown that we are able act so that Poles could feel safe." She assessed that over the past year the Law and Justice government has done more than the Civic Platform-Polish People's Party government during its 8 years in power.
She announced that next year would be marked by efforts focusing on the economy and development. "If we want to pursue an ambitious social and pro-family policy... then we have to have the second pillar - development, and the third pillar – safety," noted the PM.
"Today we have to think about accelerating investments. Poland needs to grow faster as there are a lot of projects ahead of us that will require financial support from the state," said Szydlo.
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‘Growing' is the word, because not all Poles see this year as good, as the head of government says.
Polish economic growth fell to a 2.5% annual rate after edging up a mere 0.2% in seasonally adjusted terms from the second quarter, according to a flash estimate by the Central Statistical Office (GUS), The Warsaw Voice states. It's the lowest level for last three years.
The figure falls well below expectations. Economists surveyed by PAP Polish news agency had estimated Q3 GDP growth at 2.9% year on year, with 2.7% growth of domestic demand and a 4.2% decline of investments. The seasonally adjusted annual growth rate fell to 2.1% from 3.0% in Q2.
Investments will most likely continue to take the blame, after having slipped into two quarters annual recession, last at a 4.9% annual pace.
Officials have remained calm on the question to date, assuring that the investment slowdown is nothing more than delays and hiccups as Poland shifts between EU funding cycles. All other engines, both private investment and the broad swath of consumption, are firing well, they insist.
Beata Szydlo responded on this situation with assumption that Poland's economic slowdown in the third quarter was probably temporary.
"These worse indicators are (visible) not only in Poland, but also in Germany ... but this is probably only a temporary situation," Szydlo told private broadcaster TVN.
Ruling coalition tried to shade this data with rather populist step, taken also on Wednesday: Poland's lower house of parliament approved a cut in the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women. Lowering the retirement age was one of the major election promises of the ruling Law and Justice party and its ally, President Andrzej Duda, according to Reuters.
Many economists and the opposition have criticized the move as too expensive for the budget.
"We have kept our word," Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said in parliament before the vote. "We have tackled the problems of ordinary Poles, and not of the elites."
The previous centrist government of the Civic Platform party, ousted by PiS in last year's election, raised the retirement age to ease the pressure on the budget, lifting it gradually to 67 years old for both men and women, having Poland's population of 38 million is one of the most rapidly-aging in the European Union.
The market already responded with falling zloty. The Polish currency was the weakest in the region on Tuesday, PAP quoted analysts.
Moreover, the Law and Justice government failed to thrill voters with its achievements over the first year of its rule, shows a web-based survey conducted through Ariadna panel for the daily Gazeta Prawna. Some 50% respondents assess the government's actions negatively, while only some 27% give a positive assessment.
That's happening while "there's no longer really any pretense that state-run media are anything other than the broadcasting arm of the ruling party," Notes from Poland states on Facebook. TV "offered a look back at a year of PiS in power – but managed only to find positives."
Ukraine also found its place in Szydlo's list of successes. "Strengthening the role of Poland in the EU - support for Ukraine (in conflict with Russia)," last point states (by TVP Info / Twitter).
In turn, Beata Szydlo's page on Facebook presented bombastic celebratory clip, showing government's care about "ordinary Poles, and not of the elites."