Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sumienie mam czyste

I am proud on 24 May 2015 I voted for Mr Komorowski. Although my opinion on his (mediocre) presidency in the last months before his electoral defeat was not particularly high, with hindsight I have no doubt casting a vote for him was the best I could do then. Had Mr Komorowski been re-elected, he would have been a precious safety valve, an authentic guard of constitution and stumbling block for reckless economic decisions passed by PiS-dominated parliament. Today, when executive and legislative powers are wielded by nominees of one party, counter-balance can be struck only by judiciary power (attempted to be undermined,)and by private media (public one will soon be brought to a heel by PiS)…

I was not fond of the late president, Mr Kaczyński. We were worlds apart, his views of Poland were usually far cry from mine, yet he had principles he would abide by. Honestly admitting, I did not like him, but respected him as a head of state. When Mr Duda was taking the office, I wished him well. After he reprieved Mr Kamiński (in advance, since the court has not passed a legally binding sentence) and nominated five judges of constitutional tribunal elected by PiS, before it was been ruled three of them had been elected by PO-PSL government in line with constitutional order, I have lost respect for Mr Duda, who is more dependent on Jarosław Kaczyński than Lech Kaczyński was. Servile president is not a good president.

I am proud on 25 October 2015 I voted for Nowoczesna. PO, the most numerous oppositional party is, predictably, falling apart, picking up the pieces after the electoral calamity and struggling to find a new leader, while Nowoczesna stands out in terms of standing up to the mess PiS government and deputies are making. Nowoczesna has emerged as the only firm and substantive critic of the government. Thumbs up guys. No wonder in the recent polls Nowoczesna is the runner-up in terms of support, with 20% of the surveyed declaring to support them. In the meantime support for PiS dropped to 32% and for PO to 19%. For both parties this is a well-deserved outflow of voters…

Within the first weeks of holding the entire power, hollowness of economic agenda of PiS is slowly coming to the light. Out of the blue, PiS passed a new amendment to Personal Income Tax Law, levying 70% tax on sky-high severance package of executives departing from state-owned enterprises. Given the absurdly-high level of golden parachutes, the initiative is commendable and I would support it. But the ignorant authors of the law have forgotten that majority of executive work under managerial contracts, which means they are sole proprietors hired to run companies and hence are payers of Corporate Income (flat) Tax. Thus the new tax rate will beyond all doubt to a tiny minority of executives; those working under managerial contracts will be able leverage on the loophole to dispute the tax charges. On the other hand, if the government decreases the CIT rate for small companies to 15%, all the executive will pay even lower taxes. Here comes a good example how PiS helps the poorest!

The 500+ programme, the flagship project of PiS to give 500 PLN allowance for every second and next (and for poorer families also for the first) child, also lays bare declarations of ready draft laws were lies. Until now it is unclear who will be eligible for the allowance, whether it will be treated as taxable income and how many documents parents will need to submit to file for the allowance. In the meantime, the Labour and Social Policy minister admitted the allowance will make some poor families worse off, since if they receive the allowance, they will not be eligible for welfare aid. In the meantime, one of PiS politicians appealed to well-off people not to apply for the allowance, stating if they did so, it would be ignoble… The chap appeals to the rich not to take money they will be eligible for. Jaw drops open! Is Mr Karczewski just incompetent, or is he discrediting himself?

Financial sector and large-space shop taxes are to be introduced early next year. As for now, I am holding back from assessing the effects, however I still believe ruthless banks and retail chains with foreign capital will get the blow, but will not be hit the worst.

Now I am in a quandary, weighing up whether it is worse when PiS tampers with economy or with democracy. With slightly dismantled democracy Poland can still economically prosper if it not ill-run. With unwise economic agenda Poland might follow the path of Greece, yet civic liberties will be intact. As an economist, facing the choice of lesser of two evils, I would sooner let PiS tamper with the democracy rather than meddle into teh economy.

Having written all those bitter words, I must not forget to remind there are millions of Poles who genuinely support PiS in their pursuit of “reinstating law and order”. If I told the recent events are against the will of the nation, I would depart from the truth. The government has a (weak, yet any) mandate to pursue the changes, millions of Poles were waiting for the change which looms bleak and dangerous for me. We also must remember PiS can boast of the biggest stalwart electorate, estimated at 30%.

Waiting for the course of things to unfold, I witness the growing anger at how the government and the president are making use of power. Plus when it turns out points of economic agenda either are hollow promises, or do more harm that good, people who have voted for PiS with hopes for generous spending, will turn their back on them. The scenario of early elections if most people get fed up with PiS government is not as likely as in 2007, since now PiS hold an outright majority in the parliament, but if things go bad enough, people will topple the government. Nevertheless, because for such scenario to come to a pass, too much would need to be spoilt and I do not wish bad on Poland, I hope it does not materialize.

Each month I will be trying to dedicate one post to PiS in power, times are dreadful, but interesting…

The political mess has not brought me down. Clement weather (+10C and sunshine) and the fact this is the first weekend since the beginning of November I spend without company computer lift my spirit.

1 comment:

Michael Dembinski said...

Five weeks in London and this is the best overview of what's really going on in Poland that I've read. And I read The Economist... :-)