Destinations Magazine

Ahead of Elections, Poland’s Ruling Party Offers Huge Handouts

By Stizzard

INCUMBENCY STILL has its advantages, at least in a country where the economy is booming. Poland's GDP grew by 5.1% last year, faster than any other country in the EU except tiny Malta and Ireland. Weakness in the rest of the continent will dent that by a point or more in 2019, but the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has money to splash around. On February 23rd it announced an expansion of its popular "Family 500+" programme, under which families are given 500 zlotys ($ 132) a month for each child after their first. In future, the first child will also be eligible-an extra handout to which previously only the poorest families were entitled. A 1,100 zloty bonus for state pensioners and cuts in taxes, especially for young people, are also part of the package, which is worth up to 40bn zlotys ($ 10.5bn), almost 2% of this year's projected GDP.

That is pretty blatant stuff, especially when you take into account the fact that the new child payments will go into effect in July, just three months before the expected date of the next general election. Some worry that the new promises are unaffordable. Ruling-party strategists scoff that the opposition said the same thing when the 500+ scheme was first introduced in 2016; but last year the budget was close to balance. Debt is 50% of GDP, and falling. The universal benefit, which will...

The Economist: Europe
Ahead of elections, Poland’s ruling party offers huge handouts

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