Gov't opts for permanent pension bonus as election nears

The Polish government has supported changing the discretionary bonus, called the 14th pension, into a permanent allowance for pensioners.

The Law and Justice (PiS) government had already written into law the 13th pension, a bonus paid to pensioners in the first half of the year, while the 14th pension had remained a discretionary payment that the government said would only be paid out in the second half of the year if the country's budget condition was favourable.

"Today the Council of Ministers has approved the 14th (pension - PAP) as a permanent allowance for all old-age pensioners in Poland," Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Marlena Malag, the family and social policy minister, said after the meeting that the government wanted to meet its commitment towards old-age pensioners and thank them for raising children and grandchildren.

"I assume that the allowance will be paid, as it has been the case so far, at least at the level of a minimum pension," Malag said, adding that despite an eligibility threshold of PLN 2,900 (EUR 646), "certainly over 70 percent of our senior citizens" will benefit from the payment.

In 2023, the 14th pension will cost taxpayers PLN 11.6 billion (EUR 2.58 billion), and the amount will go up to PLN 13.1 billion (EUR 2.92 billion) by 2026.

On Sunday, PiS unveiled a new social programme, including a raise in the monthly child benefit to PLN 800 (EUR 178) from PLN 500 (EUR 111), free medicines for people over 65 and under 18, and the scrapping of motorway tolls for private motorists. The prime minister said on Monday that those programmes would cost the state budget PLN 26 billion (EUR 5.77 billion) annually.

Poland will hold the general election this autumn.