Programme proposals are investments not costs - Polish PM

All retirees will receive support from the Retirement Plus programme every year from 2019, including disability claimants, and income tax will be waived for all workers under 26, apart from those who are self-employed, PM Mateusz Morawiecki has told PAP.

He added that the government does not plan to amend the state budget.

Asked whether the estimated PLN 30-40 billion (EUR 7-9 billion) cost of the five proposals announced at last week's Law and Justice (PiS) party convention was an annual cost, Prime Minister Morawiecki replied that the 'New Five' programme proposals presented by party leader Jarosław Kaczyński would cost around PLN 40 billion (EUR 9 billion) a year. However, he stressed, this should not be understood as an additional budgetary expenditure, but as an investment in society and the economy.

He said that was visible in large investments such as those in local roads, as well as in the revised functioning of the Family 500 Plus programme, which is to be extended to also include first-born children. He said it was also visible in the reduction of the Personal Income Tax (PIT) from 19 percent to 15 percent, as well as in tax relief for innovation, which has achieved record outlays in research, development and implementation. He noted that even those who are sceptical would admit that a fair sharing of the fruits of economic growth and a skilful joining of society to economic growth is achieving good results.

In answer to opposition accusations that the 'New Five' package was a form of political corruption aimed at buying votes, both to the European Parliament in the spring and the national parliament in the autumn, the PM expressed disappointment that the opposition had not commented on the substance of the package. Instead, he asserted, "we see chaos and epithets in the opposition ranks," which he said had not changed for three years. He pointed out that there was also a double election year in 2015, when PiS came to power. Then it was parliamentary and presidential. On that occasion, then PM Ewa Kopacz presented about 30 promises, not for PLN 40 billion but for PLN 140 billion (EUR 32.5 billion), but the PiS government has managed to fund its programmes through the tightening of the tax-collection system. He said he wanted to state clearly that the programmes proposed for Poles were the result of an improved state and its institutions.

Asked whether Poland could afford the PLN 40-billion bill, Mateusz Morawiecki joked that he was experiencing déja vu as he had heard the same question asked when the government launched its trademark Family 500 Plus programme. "I don't deny that there is no development of Poland without a bill. Just that the government invests in development, rather than nonchalantly throwing money about. And when one invests wisely, apart from the bill paid, benefits always appear - huge benefits for Poles, their educational opportunities, chances of finding work, and also benefits for the regions and the development of Poland," the prime minister argued.