President sees cross-party agreement on gov't relief package

2020-03-23 18:39 update: 2020-03-25, 13:21
Polish President Andrzej Duda. Photo PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik
Polish President Andrzej Duda. Photo PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik
Polish President Andrzej Duda, speaking after a teleconference with parliamentary party leaders on Monday, said that there was a huge chance that the government's anti-crisis package, worth about EUR 50 bln, will be passed in full agreement by parliament.

Following the online National Security Council (RBN) session that the president called for Monday noon, the head of state said the opposition's ideas will be taken into account when drafting the final version of related legislation.

Apart from the president and parliamentary party leaders, the RBN participants included government and parliament officials.

"There were plenty of constructive ideas, there were also a lot of questions (...). Work on those solutions is still going on," Duda said, expressing hope that the legislation will be passed by the lower house of parliament this week.

On Wednesday, the president and the government revealed a PLN 212 bln (EUR 46.43 bln) "anti-crisis shield," whose five pillars include protection of jobs, healthcare funding, financial system stability, support for businesses and public investment.

On Saturday, Duda announced that Poland will exempt self-employed people and micro-companies from social security payments for three months if their revenues drop by more than 50 pct compared to February, which will further raise the amount of state aid that is aimed to support Polish businesses which have felt the impact of the spreading coronavirus epidemic

Additionally, the president announced that Polish farmers will also be taken into account in the anti-crisis shield. Duda said he had asked the government to make sure that Polish farmers, both big and small, will receive preferences similar to entrepreneurs.

Among potential solutions, Duda named exempting farmers from social insurance, similarly to the relief entrepreneurs are going to be offered.

Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL), said after the teleconference that his party showed goodwill and did not voice any amendments to the government's special bill.

Kosiniak-Kamysz also said that, at his request, a team dealing with the anti-crisis shield will be set up after the next cabinet meeting.

Robert Biedron, a leader of the Left party, said he had presented a model for a permanent team that would work on subsequent legislative proposals and would comprise members of the government, opposition, trade unions and employers.

Jakub Kulesza, caucus head of the far-right Confederation, said that the meeting did not make much sense as the opposition parties had not received the draft legislation before the meeting so they were not familiar with the details.

He also appealed for another RBN meeting that would focus on the security of the May 10 presidential election.

Borys Budka, leader of the main opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), said that his party "is ready to immediately take part in all legislative efforts aimed to prevent the escalation of what is going on in the economy and prevent the lingering crisis.' 

Budka also appealed to PM Mateusz Morawiecki to introduce a nationwide state of natural disaster.

Such a decision would automatically postpone the May 10 presidential election. However, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), recently said that there are no reasons to change the election date at the moment. PiS supports the incumbent president, Andrzej Duda. (PAP)

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