First year of Beata Szydło’s government

It has been a full year since Beata Szydło got appointed as Poland’s Prime Minister. As her government celebrates the first 12 months in office, a press conference was held to sum up the time in charge of the country and highlight the biggest successes of the current cabinet of ministers.

In the 2015 general elections, Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) party won in a landslide, gaining majority in both the Sejm and the Senate. This gave the party a unique opportunity to state new law. As last year’s presidential election was won by the party candidate, Andrzej Duda, Szydło’s cabinet may pass virtually any bill through the Parliament and have it come into force.

Beata Szydło started her term with harsh criticism of her predecessor and presented numerous ideas for making Poland a better place to live. Her focus was put on Polish families and ordinary people, especially those from less developed regions of the country, small cities and rural areas. The party criticised the former ruling party, Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform) for giving their attention only to the affluent from big agglomerations.

The biggest change that was promised in the election campaign and was in fact introduced, concerned child benefits for all parents with two or more children. It is a big challenge from the point of view of the state budget, but also a big PR win for Prawo i Śprawiedliwość. Prime Minister Szydło stressed she is very proud of the achievement.

Among other important reforms on the list are increasing the minimum monthly salary (from January 2017 it will be 2000 PLN net), introducing minimum hourly wage, and lowering of the retirement age. The party decided to wind down the Ministry of State Treasury and put Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Development into one person’s hands, making deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki a “superminister”.

Although government officials are very pleased with their achievements in the last twelve months, many experts strongly criticize them for excessive spending and increasing national debt, which is close to 3% of GDP. The Ministry of Finance is trying to seal the budget hole by introducing new taxes and fighting VAT fraud.

According to the announcements, 2017 is to be a year where the government will focus a lot on the economy. Mateusz Morawiecki, the Minister of Finance and of Development, hopes to bring increase the GDP growth and give a boost to innovation.