Poland adopts 24-bln-euro economic aid package
WARSAW (AFP) — Poland on Sunday adopted an economic package for 2009-2010 valued at 24 billion euros (30 billion dollars) to help weather the global financial crisis, as it revised downwards its growth forecast.
“It is a stabilisation and development programme, because Poland is a country that is still developing,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters
At the same time, Polish Finance Minister Jan Rostowski said his department was lowering its economic growth forecast for 2009 to 3.7 percent, compared with the previous outlook of 4.8 percent.
Poland’s economy grew 4.8 percent in the third quarter this year compared with the same period in 2007, beating expectations, data from the national statistics office showed on Friday.
The centre-right premier said the package worth 91.3 billion zlotys includes increasing bank guarantees, giving loans to small- and medium-sized businesses, and investing in renewable energy sources.
“The programme has three objectives: to maintain financial stability to safeguard Poland’s credibility, (provide) effective protection for the poorest people hit by the world crisis, and maintain economic development to catch up with Europe’s richest countries,” said Tusk.
The government also wants to stick by its plans to reduce the country’s budget deficit next year to 18.2 billion zlotys (4.73 billion euros), compared with 27 billion zlotys (3.2 percent of gross domestic product) estimated for 2008.
“An increase in the budget deficit would risk damaging Poland’s credibility,” Tusk said.
Poland, which broke free from the communist bloc in 1989 and joined the European Union in 2004, has enjoyed robust economic growth in recent years fuelled by massive foreign investment and rising living standards.
Last year, output expanded 6.7 percent compared to 2006.
“Happily, the consequences of the global crisis for Poland are not so grave,” added Tusk.
Tusk has expressed scepticism over the European Commission’s proposed 200-billion-euro stimulus package.
“The main thing is to know how to find the money,” Tusk said on Wednesday. “If there is anything missing on the market today, it is certainly money.”
He added, however, that Poland supported efforts within the EU “that help to stabilise markets and limit the possibility of manipulation and speculative attacks.”
The Commission’s proposed package, drawn from national and EU programmes, would be equal to about 1.5 percent of the entire bloc’s gross domestic product.
Some economists have their doubts about the EU plan, noting that 130 billion euros would come from national plans in Germany, France, Britain and Italy and the rest from EU funding.
Also, some of the national measures would do little against recession in the short-term, economists have said, pointing to Germany’s 32-billion-euro package which would be spread over four years and Italy’s plans which include bank recapitalisations.
Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced he will present on Thursday a “very strong” economic plan for France. He gave no details but said it would include measures for the energy sector which he characterised as a “reservoir” of jobs.
EU finance ministers are set to meet on Monday in Brussels with the stimulus plan on the agenda.