WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s economy could decline less than 3.5% this year even despite the coronavirus pandemic, while next year should see a definite rebound, the country’s prime minister declared Monday.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke after a government meeting that amended this year’s budget law to allow for a contraction of the stricken economy of up to 4.6% of GDP. This is the figure foreseen by the European Commission as a result of the nationwide lockdown and social distancing introduced in EU nations in March to battle the spread of COVID-19.
Morawiecki said data is showing that the economic decline in Poland might be less than that prognosis, partly thanks to government support programs for businesses.
Despite its generous social programs, Poland’s right-wing government was hoping for a balanced budget this year, largely thanks to its strict tax collection, but the pandemic upended those predictions.
The government also adopted a 2021 draft budget with an income of 404.4 billion zlotys ($103.3 billion) and deficit of 82.3 billion zlotys ($21 billion). The deficit is expected to reach 52.7% of GDP.
Morawiecki vowed that the government’s benefit programs for families with children and for retirees will continue.
The draft budget still needs approval from parliament and President Andrzej Duda.
Poland has recorded over 88,600 virus infections and 2,447 confirmed deaths this year, although experts say all figures understate the true toll of the pandemic due to limited testing, missed cases and other factors.