Sunday, 7 February 2016

The quest for a better tomorrow

The day when the new police law comes into force coincides with the monthly overview of Poland’s new rulers’ attainments. As a relatively unpopular foreign-language blogger, I consider my place at the list of enemies of the good change is near the bottom, so I feel free to share my thoughts.

On 19 January the Polish prime minister participated in a debate on threats for democracy in Poland. The course of the debate and its repercussions were a debacle of liberals and a huge victory for Mrs Szydło (whose hollow words and declarations made much better impression than worthless utterances of leftist and liberal deputies) and for all EU-sceptical politicians who put in superb stunt as allies of PiS. The timing of the debate coincided with the news of several refugee rapes in Germany being concealed from the public, a water to the mill of those claiming Germany has no right to interfere into functioning of democracy in Poland if in the name of political correctness they covered up crimes committed by jobless rabble…

On Monday the banking tax came into effect. The draft of the retail trade tax is now in the phase of public consultation and nearly everyone involved tears a strip off it. In the shape it is put forward the biggest retailers who were supposed to bear the burden of the tax are likely to be beneficiaries of it. The most dreadful part of the tax which might be a nail to the coffin of small retailers and which might send several people unemployed is the highertax rate for turnover generated on Saturdays, Sundays and on bank holidays. This will also mean end of cheaper petrol over weekends (it is less costly because many company cars can be fuelled up only during the working week), bigger discrepancies between prices working-week and weekend prices (typical practice for repricing food produces in Auchan) and generally lower competition, since some retailers will drop off. Customer beware, you will pay the bill anyway!

By the way, formally each draft law undergoes public consultation under the lawmaking process. Sound commendably, but I wonder when any amendment proposed by the opposition or any other entity participating in the consultation is included into any final legal act.

The PLN 500 child allowance draft law is also being consulted. There was a short discord between the ministry of finance and the government, but Mr Szałamacha was swiftly taken to the task. Funding for the generous giving away is secured for 2016, when the programme will be serviced only over nine months and when one-off proceeds of PLN 9 billion from LTE frequency auction are to flow in, but streams of revenues which will finance the allowance from 2017 onwards have not been defined. Besides, politicians of PiS keep on appealing to the wealthiest Poles not to apply for the allowance, instead of setting an income cap above which parents would not be entitled to the benefit.

Besides, worth mentioning pace of works on the draft bears testimony to the greatest lie of the pre-election campaign. On 20 October 2015, as the TV debate between Mrs Kopacz and Mrs Szydło was drawing to a close, Mrs Szydło showed a blue file with ready drafts of new laws. She also told she would show the documents during a conference right after the debate. Needless to say subsequently Mrs Szydło only waved the file and has never showed any draft law. An excellent PR stunt, I wonder only why everyone, including journalists and politicians from today’s opposition, has fallen for it no one has taken the trouble to check out what the content of the file was?

And just recently PO came up with a counter-proposal of an even more generous pro-family agenda of giving out PLN 500 for every child, regardless of income per person in a household. Jaw drops open. If the biggest, in terms of number of deputies, party in the opposition, keeps on fooling about like this, in a year they will enjoy support below 10% in the polls. In the meantime is losing its vigour. In the long run Mr Petru and his partisans are unlikely to retain support above 20% and if they miraculously manage to win the election, they will lose power quickly. Affluent and resourceful people who want lean and efficient state, in other words liberal electorate, make up a tiny, though growing, percentage of voters.

After Standard and Poor's downgraded Poland’s rating, Fitch and Moody’s have announced reviews of Poland’s rating within 12 months and warned of possible downgrades for reasons far more substantive than those behind S&P’s move. As two other rating agencies point out, generous government spending calls into question fiscal balance and in the long-run is likely to decrease creditworthiness of Poland.

The government is getting to grips with the ailments of state-owned coal mines. During the campaign PiS promised not to close any mine and not to make redundant any miner. After the reality check strongly unionised miners, in order to help the government meet its promises, will have to accept salary cuts. Good luck!

Finally the Smolensk crash stands a chance to be scrutinised properly! The new team of experts, some of which even have notion about intricacies of aviation, but none of them has experience in investigating civil nor military passenger airplane crashes, is to carry out an unbiased investigation and definitely will not set any hypothesis in advance; exactly like Mr Macierewicz who signed a decree setting up the team and subsequently during the conference on which establishing the team was announced, adjudicated there had been an explosion which blew up the Tu-154 plane some fifteen or eighteen metres above ground level.

Three weeks into public media takeover, apart from a few spectacular lay-offs, the change I witness is less spectacular than many expected. The extent to which TVP is PiS biased is similar to how TVN is anti-PiS biased. Different views are presented and guests with different views are invited, but the bottom line message delicately instructs audience how to shape their opinion. Nevertheless, fortunately TVP has not stooped to the level of TV Republika, lousy propaganda which would drastically decrease popularity of TVP.

No comments: