Prominent economists debate main opposition PiS’ economic proposals
September 25, 2012
Jaroslaw Kaczynski and PiS deputy head Beata Szydlo host the debate
Poland's main opposition party, conservative Law and Justice (PiS), opened a new front in its political campaign, bringing together some 30 prominent Polish economists to a televised debate over the party's economic proposals presented by PiS in early September.
"We came here to humbly listen to your opinions and to take them into account, although they might differ ," PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said to kick-off the policy debate held on Monday at the headquarters of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN).
PiS failed to invite Poland’s Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski to the debate. Rostowski had earlier criticized the PiS-proposed economic changes calling catastrophic for Polish public finance. He estimated that introducing PiS economic proposals would cost the budget over billion zlotys next year.
The Monday policy debate, with a heavy dose on tax policy and family policy, comes as a notable diversion from the day to day priorities of the party as seen in the mainstream media. PiS has been criticized for a profile still focused on the investigation into the Smolensk tragedy, with comparatively few efforts on policy.
PiS's economic program includes proposals of changes in the tax system (imposing new taxes on banks and retail chains), combating unemployment and pro-family measures.
While agreeing with PiS's diagnosis that Poland's income tax receipts are dwindling, economists largely doubted whether the solutions proposed by the party were sufficient to improve the situation.
Summarizing the debate, Kaczynski said that despite differences of opinion, the debate showed it was worth discussing public issues.
"In spite of all, we talked," he said. "I would like talks to be held in such a way in Poland in many other places, so that this terrible war started seven years ago and still going on, bringing about very tragic consequences, is finally over."
Ruling party Civic Platform (PO) MP Andrzej Halicki called the debate "a political spectacle."
Left-wing opposition party Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) will mount its own economic debate with experts devoted to ways of combating crisis on October 5, SLD spokesperson Dariusz Jonski said on Monday. Invitations have been sent out, among others, to central bank head Marek Belka and rate setter Jerzy Hausner.