Polish president's comments dash pension industry's hope for reprieve
Hope is running out for Poland’s pensions industry to modify the government’s overhaul of the second-pillar system after president Bronisław Komorowski suggested he would be unlikely to veto the bill.
At the end of September, Irena Wóycicka, secretary of state in the presidential Cabinet, raised the constitutional implications of the impact on returns following the ban on pension funds buying government bonds in the future while the following month Komorowski stated that he would examine the bill for its constitutional implications.
On 28 November, the president told Radio RMF FM that while the reforms were not the ideal solution, they centred on securing the Budget and public finances, which was the government’s preserve and something he could not veto.
Komorowski said he hoped the final law would eliminate all constitutional doubts, adding – without specifying – that the government had made some improvements here since its earlier announcements.
Opposition to the bill among Polish authorities has pretty much melted away.
Even the new finance minister Mateusz Szczurek, who replaced the deeply unpopular Jacek Rostowski, one of the key architects of the changes, in mid-November, and who had earlier supported the second pillar, has had to renounce his earlier views.
The bill gets its first reading in the Sejm (lower house of Parliament) in the first week of December and the Senate (upper house) the following week.
Opposition parties could prolong the Sejm debate with amendments, but this would not necessarily work to the industry’s advantage.
Law and Justice, the largest opposition party, prefers the Hungarian variant of total nationalisation.
The president has until early January to sign off the law.
The government wants it on the statute book by the following month: 3 February marks the start of the transfer of government bonds, and other assets making up 51.5% of each fund’s portfolio, to workers’ first-pillar sub-accounts.