Polish PM's cabinet wins vote of confidence

AFP , Saturday 19 Nov 2011

Lawmakers in the Polish lower house, where the ruling coalition commands a majority of 235 seats, back the government in a vote of 223 to 211, with two abstentions

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centre-right cabinet, a coalition of his Civic Platform (PO) and Poland's People's Party (PSL), won a vote of confidence in parliament Saturday.

On Friday Tusk vowed in a speech to parliament that he would use his second consecutive term to introduce sweeping austerity reforms aimed at safeguarding growth amid crisis in the eurozone.

Tusk vowed to bring the annual public deficit down to the EU ceiling of 3.0 per cent of gross domestic product next year and rein in the national debt to 52 per cent of GDP from the current 53.8 per cent, in a bid to keep Polish growth on track.

A recent European Commission forecast put Polish growth at 2.5 per cent in 2012 and 2.8 per cent in 2013, after a robust 4.0 per cent this year.

Not yet a eurozone member, Poland is the only state in the 27-member bloc which has escaped recession, boasting 15.4 per cent growth in the 2008-11 period while the EU as a whole suffered a 0.4 per cent contraction.

Tusk pledged to do away with wide-ranging tax breaks and raise the retirement age to boost the public coffers, along with tax hikes on raw materials like copper, silver and future shale gas supplies in Poland.

In the new 20-member cabinet, key government figures including Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak and Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak have retained their posts.

With Poland gearing up to co-host the Euro 2012 soccer championships with Ukraine, Joanna Mucha, 35, was named sports minister, one of four women in the new cabinet.

A member of the European Union since 2004, Poland currently holds its six-month rotating presidency until the end of the year.

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