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Polish reformer Góra condemns govt plans

POLAND - Marek Góra, the Warsaw School of Economics professor who was one of the architects of the Polish pension reform, has condemned the Polish government's pre-pensions proposals, saying they would amount to a "disaster".

The draft law to overhaul the Polish pre-pension arrangements, planned to come into effect 2007, would enable certain groups of workers to retire at least five years before the normal retirement age of 60 for women and 65 for men.

Góra said that there is a 50/50 chance of the law being introduced next year, however adding: "I hope it will not be approved, it would be a disaster."

According to Góra, reducing the retirement age by at least five years "would be very bad for the economy and for the people".

It would cost a lot and "spoil the rules which are now very clear: people pay contributions, create account values and on the day of retirement they receive an annuity, which is the key rule of the system".

Furthermore he said that Poland, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), expects a sharp reduction in pension expenditure as supposed to increases elsewhere.

His criticism follows the scandal that has hit Poland's ruling party, Law and Justice, in which party leaders were filmed trying to bribe a member of another party to defect.

Now, parliament may dissolve itself and call new elections; however, the situation so far is unclear.

Meanwhile, a Polish judge has ruled that former Treasury minister Andrzej Chronobski has to publicly apologise over allegations he made in 2005 against Eureko, the Dutch insurer, in the row over Polish insurer PZU.

It's the latest round of an ongoing row over the Polish state-owned insurer PZU.

Eureko bought 30% of PZU in co-operation with the local BIG Bank Gdanski in late 1999 on the understanding that it would have operating control. But successive governments have shown themselves reluctant to cede control of the group.

The dispute is currently the subject of an arbitration procedure between the State Treasury and Eureko. Eureko alleges that "the Republic of Poland had violated Polish-Dutch Treaty for the protection of investments by frustrating Eureko's investment in PZU".

Chronobski for instance alleged in 2005 that Eureko did not have enough money to by its 30% share, and used a loan from PZU.

The use of a loan could be an argument to declare the privatisation of PZU as invalid.


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