Tusk accuses gov't of incompetence in fighting inflation

"High prices can be fought against, but there are two conditions to do it effectively," Tusk said. "People need to show basic competence and basic honesty." Adam Kumorowicz/PAP

Donald Tusk, leader of Poland's main opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), has accused the government of mishandling inflation through incompetence and dishonesty.

"When I became prime minister (in 2017 - PAP), inflation was at about 5 percent, and then the global crisis struck, which devastated a number of European economies and despite that, when I was leaving the government, inflation was below zero percent," Tusk said at a PO congress in the central Polish city of Radom on Saturday.

He also said that the current ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), allowed inflation to get out of hand and surge from minus -1.4 percent to 16 percent today.

Poland's CPI reached 15.6 percent in June 2022, according to a flash estimate by the Central Statistical Office (GUS).

Tusk went on to say that inflation in Europe was often much lower than in Poland, naming Malta with a 5.8 CPI reading, France with a 5.8 figure and Germany, where inflation is at well over 7 percent.

"High prices can be fought against, but there are two conditions to do it effectively," Tusk said. "People need to show basic competence and basic honesty."

But Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of PiS, accused the EU of adding fuel to inflation.

At a meeting with party supporters in Białystok, eastern Poland, on Saturday, Kaczyński said that "some part of the inflation should be blamed on the European Union's activities which raise the prices of energy, and it certainly translates into other prices."

He also said the government had to spend PLN 200 billion (EUR 42.7 billion) to support the economy during the Covid-19 crisis, "which saved a really huge number of companies and jobs, but must have had an effect, though moderate, on inflation."

"And finally the main reason - 'Putinflation'," he said. "It is a result of the war, and if someone else claims otherwise, they should look around Poland and answer the question, where can't inflation be found? In the countries surrounding Poland, it is usually higher."

The latest EU inflation readings for May show four countries with inflation higher than May's 13.9 reading for Poland, namely the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The government has blamed inflation on Russia's war against Ukraine and post-Covid global bottlenecks, but the opposition says the inflation would not be so high now had the central bank governor, Adam Glapiński, an ally of PiS, acted in a timely fashion and not downplayed the risk of inflation in early 2021.

The central bank started raising rates from a record-low level of 0.1 percent in October 2021, when September's CPI was already at 5.9 percent.