Polish gov’t ministers look back at two years in power
In a series of news conferences, Poland’s Cabinet ministers on Wednesday summed up their track record after the first two years of the government.
The ministers’ statements followed a joint press conference a day earlier by the leader of Law and Justice and the Prime Minister Beata Szydło, who briefed reporters on the achievements of the government at the midpoint of its term.
Investment, modern technology
Mateusz Morawiecki, the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, said that one of the government’s biggest successes to date was that it changed the country's economic development strategy to one based on investment, modern technology, exports and savings.
Under policies pursued by previous governments, the country’s development was based on the privatisation of state enterprises, borrowing and fuelling consumption, said Morawiecki, who is also development and finance minister.
Meanwhile, Family, Labour and Social Policy Minister Elżbieta Rafalska said that the government’s flagship child benefit programme has “achieved its aims.”
The Family 500 plus programme has improved the quality of life for families nationwide, reduced poverty, and contributed to a larger number of births, Rafalska told reporters.
She also listed other achievements, including record low unemployment, increased minimum wages and pensions and restoring a lower retirement age.
‘Responsible migration policy’
Interior and Administration Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said that in his first two years he focused on priorities including a “responsible migration policy” and restoring a sense of security for Polish people living in local areas.
This last objective has been achieved by reopening police stations and making sure that citizens in small towns “feel safe,” Błaszczak said.
As interior minister, Błaszczak oversees law enforcement and security services such as the police, Border Guard and the State Fire Service.
The government has opted for “a responsible way of dealing with the problem of illegal immigration," by protecting Poland’s own borders and those of its EU partners as part of the bloc’s Frontex border agency and bilateral agreements, Błaszczak said.
'All equal before law'
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that the main job of his ministry in the last two years has been to make Poland a fairer country where everyone is equal before the law and where citizens are guaranteed legal security and assistance as befits “a modern state based on the rule of law.”
He also said that "a lot" remains to be done and that his ministry has “many ambitious plans” for the future.
Army capable of defending nation’s independence
Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said the government has built a “national army capable of defending our independence.”
This is due to the army itself, the government, the policies of the ruling Law and Justice party and “the people who chose this government,” Macierewicz said.
He also said that over 31,000 soldiers have been promoted over the past two years, while those who have proved “incapable of taking on the challenge of building a strong army for an independent Poland” have left the military.
The Polish army has been equipped with some new state-of-the-art munitions, Macierewicz also said.
Polish science developing based on three pillars
The government’s strategy for the development of Polish science and higher education is based on three pillars, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin said.
These are a new game-changing law on universities that is designed to reform Poland’s science and higher education sectors, efforts to build bridges between business and science, and work to foster the “social responsibility of science,” said Gowin, who is also science and higher education minister as well as deputy prime minister.
In the maritime sector, a top priority for Poland’s ruling conservatives over the past two years has been to “rebuild” the country’s shipbuilding industry, Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation Minister Marek Gróbarczyk said.
He added that the country’s shipbuilders benefited from measures including zero-rated value-added tax (VAT) on the manufacture, importation and equipment for seagoing ships.
Among other priorities of his ministry, Gróbarczyk mentioned planned construction of a strategic canal between the Vistula Lagoon and Gdańsk Bay in the Baltic Sea.
The aim is to allow deep-draught vessels to enter the Polish port of Elbląg without passing through the Strait of Baltiysk in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave.