Sunday, 13 March 2016

ZaPiSki z czasów dobrej zmiany

Heard the purport of the controversial speech of president Duda in Otwock has been manipulated by the media hostile to PiS. I advise you listen the speech and shape an opinion on it on yourselves. Has Mr president gone too far in diagnosing the ailments plaguing Poland and in insulting his opponents? Is Mr Duda president of all Poles or of one particular party? Up to you to decide…

In February Mrs Szydło’s government celebrated first 100 days of work. Out of five priorities on the government’s agenda only one has been carried through.
1. The 500 plus child allowance programme has been launched and first payouts to parents will be made in April. Undeniable credit to the government for delivering the flagship project, however a truly impressive attainment will be making ends meet in budgets for 2017 and onwards without containing the scale of the program .
2. Decreasing retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men remains in the realm of promises. Mr Duda promised to submit a relevant draft law and kept his promise, nothing beyond it.
3. In progress is the law setting up free-of-charge medicines for elderly people aged 75 or more. Needless to say the list of medicines will not be endless and only some medications will qualify for 100% reimbursement. According to some estimates, an average pensioner will save no more than 20 zlotys monthly thanks to generosity of PiS government. Wonder whether administrative expenses will be higher or lower than gains of all entitled old-aged citizens.
4. CIT rate cut to 15% for micro enterprises looms far on the horizon. A few PiS politicians brought up the topic, but right now the government is preoccupied with putting out other fires.
5. Raising tax allowance to PLN 8,000 per year also stands no chance of being accomplished in 2016 and feasibility of such move in 2017, given foreseen shortfall of budget revenues, is up in the air.

The festival of traducing Mr Wałęsa was rather short-lasting, but I am sure this has not been the last word. The game is up…

The former CEO of Bank Zachodni WBK has unveiled the Responsible Development Plan, a roadmap for Poland to catch up with the Western Europe and a set of measures to move Poland forward. It is beyond all doubt Poland badly needs a long-term development strategy, yet the strategy must be viable from cover to cover, i.e. it should identify what problems need to be overcome and with what means.
The diagnosis Mr Morawiecki sets is spot-on, but hang on… How do the notions underlying the plan square with PiS’ economic agenda? It is claimed public debt is a drag on Poland’s development, but PiS’ spending spree will sooner or later have to contribute to rising public debt. Demographics is bound to decrease labour force in Poland and to counteract it PiS deputies put forward decreasing retirement age and have raised schooling age from 6 to 7.
Besides, being familiar with specifics of some sectors (e.g. shipyards, automotive, transport, capital goods), I fear goals in the programme might be to beautiful to be realistic. Harnessing banking and corporate sectors’ over-liquidity to boost investment smacks of central planning. All in all, the plan makes a good impression, but I do not believe the government “knows better” than thousands of enterprises. Lending a helping hand and setting strategic objectives for the development should remain the core areas of government’s involvement in the economy. Let’s not go beyond them and let the free market do its job.

The cursed soldiers, for years forgotten, in the days surrounding 1 March were glorified more avidly than veterans of the Home Army (not to mentioned those out of luck to join the Home Army). I have not against commemorating victims of Stalinism, tortured and murdered between 1945 and 1956, they do deserve our remembrance, but the cursed soldiers are not a uniform group and historians (other than IPN-affiliated) vary in their assessments of cursed soldiers’ deeds after the Home Army was dissolved in January 1945. In 1945, as Poland became subjugated to the Soviet Union, warfare was officially over. Some people came to terms with the fact Poland could be at best a satellite country of the Soviet Union and under those circumstances began to rebuild the country from ruins, combat illiteracy, electrifying countryside, while others did not lay down guns. The problem I have with them is that they did not fight the Soviets, but they killed their compatriots, not only the ardent functionaries of the new systems in MO, UB, PPR uniforms, but also representatives of the ethnical minorities, Jews and civilians who did not resist the new order or benefited from it, e.g. peasants granted land as part of the agrarian reform.
Romuald Rajs “Bury” and Józef Kuraś “Ogień” are two most glaring examples of bandits venerated today. I would strongly prefer the whole truth is told about those people. Locals in Podhale or near Białowieża, especially ancestors of civilians killed by brigades of “the stalwart” put up the biggest resistance when IPN- and PiS affiliated , yet their voices are rarely audible.
Besides, come to think of it with cool head. Imagine someone hiding in a forest. What would they live off? How would the procure nutrition? How would they survive harsh winters in the second half of 1940s? Locals tired of six years of privations of war did not need to embrace the idea of helping out the forestmen by offering them board and lodging…

A tyre popped. Had it happened in an ordinary Pole’s passenger car, it would have passed unnoticed. But the tyre popped in a BMW carrying president Duda; consequently the vehicle went into a skid and landed in a roadside ditch. Fortunately, the head of state came of the accident safe and sound and after the voices of conspiracy theorists (assassination could not be ruled out) and vulgar haters faded, it transpired the tyre had been produced in 2010 and should have long been out of use. Jaw drops open. Within four months PiS have managed to replace most officials in ministries and state-controlled companies and launched several opening audits to reveal irregularities and havoc wreaked by their incompetent predecessors, but they have failed to inspect fleet of vehicles carrying the statesmen.

Why did this happen? The technical conditional of the vehicle is one side of the coin, the driving style of BOR being the other. Many doubt the column of vehicles, including with Mr Duda on board, was moving within the speed limit of 140 kmph, witnesses speak of the speed of 170 kmph or even 200 kmph. BOR vehicles according to the Polish law enjoy the status of privileged vehicles, just like ambulances, fire engines and police cars. This means they do not need to follow traffic regulations. Let’s have a glance at how the column of vehicles moved at National Road DK5 before turning into A4 motorway where the accident took place. 

I know the road well, its surface if flat, has not ruts, but the road is narrow, winding, hilly and on many sections visibility is poor. Does such way of moving around contribute to safety of Mr Duda (or whoever is a passengers) and other innocent road participants?

Last Sunday a supplementary election to the upper house was held in Łomża – Suwałki constituency. Anna Maria Anders, backed by PiS won the seat in the parliament, but if you bear in mind three facts:
1. Mrs Anders’ score (47%) was mere 6 percentage points ahead of PSL-affiliated, PO- and Nowoczesna-backed Mr Baginski’s result,
2. the turnout in the election was 17%, meaning only 8% of citizens entitled to vote cast their votes for Mrs Anders,
3. Mrs Anders had been endorsed by all prominent PiS politicians involved in her campaign, while PO, PSL and Nowoczesna had not lifted a little finger to support their candidate (shame on you, Mr Schetyna, Mr Petru and Mr Kosiniak-Kamysz),
the victory is anything but swingeing and should rather be interpreted as a warning sign than as declaration of strong support.

The VeniceCommission has issued a report on recent changes in law pertaining to the Constitutional Tribunal. The final document is somewhat toned down in comparison to the draft which had leaked to the media in February. The Commission blames both the previous and the current governments for paralysing the Tribunal and urges the Polish government to rectify the wrongdoing. Commentators keep on talking about the political compromise to be worked out to reverse the unfortunate legislation. This twaddle fills me with dread. There is no room for give-and-take, politicians from all parties present in the parliament have to make a concerted effort to bring the laws in line with constitution. The PiS government is slowly realising it cannot mess with everyone around. Hope the opposition realise this time for the benefit of Poland they will need to collaborate with the government, not to reach any compromise, but to restore the legal framework spoilt in two stages by PO-PSL, PiS and president Duda.

1 comment:

Michael Dembinski said...

Excellent overview. I have decided to steer clear of Polish politics and cover materials spiritual (largely) until Easter.

But this post makes me realise that the chronicler-in-chief of the ups an downs (mostly downs) of the current government resides on this blog :-)