Law and Justice is to support the adoption of the report on the implementation of the state budget for 2020, according to the announcements of the party’s representatives. The opposition does not spare criticism against the report. According to KO deputy Izabela Leszczyna, Thursday’s debate on the report on the implementation of the state budget in 2020 “should not take place at all.”
On Thursday, in the Sejm, there was a debate on the reports on: state budget implementation for the period from January 1 to December 31, 2020, along with the analysis of state budget execution and assumptions of monetary policy in 2020 presented by the Supreme Audit Office and a commission draft resolution discharge; presented by the Prime Minister “Information on sureties and guarantees granted in 2020 by the State Treasury, certain legal entities and Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego”, as well as on the activities of the National Bank of Poland in 2020.
“The government passed the exam excellently”
During his speech, MP Henryk Kowalczyk (PiS) informed that the parliamentary majority would support the resolution on the adoption of the report on the implementation of the state budget for 2020 and granting discharge to the Council of Ministers for this period.
However, Kowalczyk pointed out that the pandemic forced a budget amendment in October 2020. The amendment provided for an increase in expenditure and a decrease in revenues. The MP indicated that despite the pandemic, the income was higher than in 2019. – All social programs were implemented, including 500 plus the 13th retirement pension. This allowed for an increase in consumption – he stressed. He added that in the pandemic, health expenditure was increased to PLN 116 billion, which was already 5.5 percent. GDP.
According to Kowalczyk, it is not clear what the year 2021 will be like, which is why non-expiring expenses in the amount of 11 billion were an advantage, not a disadvantage. – The budget in this shape, thanks to the responsible policy of the government, thanks to institutions such as the NBP and PFR (Polish Development Fund), allowed me to go through this crisis with a dry foot – he emphasized. He indicated that unemployment practically did not increase, that the financial shields for entrepreneurs and local governments were activated, and their very quick activation saved jobs. – The government passed the exam very well – said the PiS MP.
“The PiS government expects parliament to adopt the report blindly”
Izabela Leszczyna, a KO deputy, had a different opinion. According to her, Thursday’s debate on the report on the implementation of the state budget in 2020 “should not take place at all.”
– Why? Because the 2020 budget is still being implemented. After all, at the end of last year, the Minister of Finance transferred PLN 11,600 million to expenses in 2021. These expenses may be realized until the end of November. How can the Seym accept a report on the implementation of these expenses? It’s July, and you’ll be doing them until November, ‘asked Hazel.
As she added, “Minister Kościński (Minister of Finance, Funds and Regional Policy Tadeusz Kościński – ed.) Knows that the Sejm cannot accept this report and therefore does not exist.”
According to the deputy, today it is impossible to assess the state budget performance on the expenditure side. – The essence of parliamentary control over the implementation of the budget is that we compare the expenditure plan with the execution. It cannot be done today. The PiS government expects the parliament to adopt the report blindly – she pointed out.
According to Leszczyna, “if the Sejm adopts the report on the implementation of the budget today, no one will settle this money, no one will settle it for the PiS government.” – The 2020 budget implementation report is simply unacceptable. That is why the Civic Coalition is submitting a motion to reject this report and not to grant discharge to the government, informed the MP.
“The biggest budget scam in the EU”
As Dariusz Wieczorek (Left) said, when analyzing the implementation of the budget for 2020, we are dealing with “the biggest budget scam in the EU in the last few decades”. – It’s good to catch billions in a cloudy budget – he argued. These billions, he added, are “stuck in various funds.” For example, the re-privatization fund was supplied with PLN 1.5 billion; intervention stock fund – PLN 4 billion; labor fund – PLN 23 billion, social insurance fund – PLN 38 billion – he enumerated.
The MP spoke about using the pandemic to spoil the Polish budget. – You used the crisis to completely obscure public finances – assessed Wieczorek. He announced that the Lewica club would vote against the approval of the budget implementation report for 2020 and against granting a discharge to the government of Mateusz Morawiecki.
Czesław Siekierski (Coalition Poland-PSL) expressed his surprise that there was no finance minister in the plenary hall. As he said, various costs are being hidden in the state budget, which was pointed out by the Supreme Audit Office. He also assessed that last year’s budget was a budget of great shortages, with insufficient financing of socially important areas, such as health care, education and agriculture. At the same time, he admitted that the government reacted quickly to the pandemic by activating financial shields. Krzysztof Paszyk, representing the same club, added that last year’s budget did not provide for compensation for local governments due to the loss of income caused, inter alia, by zero PIT for young people and an increase in the minimum wage.
Criticism was also expressed by MP Artur Dziambor from the Confederation. In his opinion, “slightly more than 15 percent of fitness companies benefited from the anti-crisis shield, the rest were left to themselves under the pain of gigantic penalties – PLN 30,000 for opening a gym, because Law and Justice requested it”. He added that the Confederation was refused when it proposed that representatives of various business sectors join the team working on anti-crisis shields. Dziambor announced that the Confederation would not support the discharge for the Council of Ministers.
“Creative accounting, stuffing expenses”
The representative of the Polish 2050 parliamentary group, MP Paulina Hennig-Kloska, also announced that her party would not support the discharge for the Council of Ministers and would vote against the report on the implementation of the budget for 2020.
– Creative accounting, pushing expenses beyond the budget act, has already become a routine in the Ministry of Finance – she assessed. According to her, this situation is best illustrated by the discrepancy between the state budget deficit, which amounted to PLN 85 billion, and the actual public debt, which increased by PLN 290 billion. – The difference of over PLN 200 billion is over 10%. GDP – said the MP. – This is how healthy public finances look like according to Prime Minister Morawiecki – she added.
Zbigniew Girzyński (Polish Deputies’ Association) pointed out that the budget for 2020 was originally adopted as a balanced budget. However, the problems began while it was being implemented – “they were partly no fault but partly the fault of this government.” The MP pointed to “irrational” reactions in the government’s actions in connection with the coronavirus, including concerning the closure of certain industries or hotels. – These were irrational actions, causing losses in the economy – he assessed.
Report on the implementation of the budget
In May, the government adopted a resolution on the budget implementation report for the previous year, along with a resolution on closing state budget accounts for 2020.
The state budget revenues amounted to nearly PLN 420 billion, and the expenses to approx. PLN 505 billion. The state budget deficit was close to PLN 85 billion. Compared to 2019, revenues increased in nominal terms by 4.8%, and in real terms by 1.4%.
Originally, the Budget Act of February 14, 2020 assumed a balanced state budget. Income and expenses are planned at the level of approx. PLN 435 billion. However, due to COVID-19, the state budget needed to be amended.
The state budget revenues in 2020 in the amount of approx. PLN 420 billion were higher by approx. PLN 21 billion (i.e. 5.3%) compared to the amount planned in the amended budget act for 2020. State budget expenditure, in PLN 505 billion, were 0.6 percent lower than planned in the amendment to the 2020 budget. This is the effect of lower current expenditure of budgetary units as well as grants and subsidies, as well as expenditure on co-financing projects with the participation of European Union funds.
The deficit of nearly PLN 85 billion was lower by 22.3 percent. from the amendment to the Budget Act.
Main photo source: PAP / Marcin Obara