Retirement age reform passed through the Sejm
Bringing the retirement age in Poland down was a promise made in the last general elections campaign. Despite the warnings of numerous experts, who call the move unreasonable, the government is dedicated to keep the word and pass the reform through the Parliament. 262 MPs voted in favour of the bill, 149 voted against it, 19 abstained from the vote.
For many years, the retirement threshold for Polish men was 65 and for Polish women 60. The reform of Donald Tusk’s government increased it to 67 regardless of the sex. The reform was being introduced gradually. Prawo i Sprawiedliwość party announced it would turn the clock back as soon as the change was introduced.
Polls show that Polish citizens are vastly in favour of going back to the old retirement age, even though it means their pensions will be lower. It appears fewer years at work are valued higher than extra money. A person reaching the new retirement age will not have to retire. This will be an option, not an obligation.
Experts warn the reform will have devastating effects on the public finances. Smaller working population means less state income in the form of taxes and contributions. Demographic data show the number of people over the working age will start rapidly growing in the next few years. Polish society is getting older, not many babies are born.
Estimates show that with pension age as low as 60 and 65, a vast portion of today’s working age population will receive minimum state pensions and will not be able to maintain their current standard of living. This is especially true for women, who work fewer years than men. Poland will have the lowest retirement age for women in the EU.
It appears that the government is ignoring the warnings. Its opponents brace for the upcoming doom of the pension system and “next Greece” or “next Venezuela”. They highlight the fact that other European countries have plans to move the retirement age up, not down.
Prime Minister Beata Szydło assures the budget is ready to handle the cost of the reform. If everything goes according to plan, the reform will come into force in October 2017. The bill now needs to be passed through the Senate and get Presidential signature to finish the legislative process.
Piotr Duda, the Head of the Solidarity labour union said this is a happy day for Polish employees.
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