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POLAND: Gov't adopts Anti-Crisis Shield

Yesterday evening the government adopted (through circulation) the package of bills dubbed as the Anti-Crisis Shield. Minister of Development Jadwiga Emilewicz announced that today the bills are meant to be consulted with the opposition. Tomorrow, they will be voted on by the parliament and, if everything goes smoothly, they will come into life as of 1 April. The Shield consists of three bills:

Draft amendment bill on specific solutions related to the prevention, countering and eradication of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crises caused by them.
– The main legal act introducing solutions presented as part of the Ant-Crisis Shield;
(Previously discussed in the 17 March 2020 CEC Weekly Legislative Update – Coronavirus Act)

Draft bill on providing public support for the rescue and restructuring of enterprises
– The law lays out foundations for providing public support to micro, small and medium enterprises. It determines the criteria of eligibility, as well as the mode and form of providing help, temporary restructuring support and restructuring of enterprises.

Draft amendment bill on the system of development institutions
– The proposal introduces several changes to the operation of development institutions (e.g. the Polish Development Fund), which are a result of new tasks and duties determined by the Anti-Crisis Shield.

Follow this link, for an in-depth overview of the assumption of the Anti-Crisis Shield. Please note that the specific assumptions of the bill have changed from the 19.03 document after consultations. The most widely-discussed change is that the government will cover social insurance contributions (ZUS) for many workers rather than postpone payment obligations. Government works on the bills were very intense right until adoption – CEC will provide an in-depth overview of the most significant changes after the final adoption of the package by the parliament.

Some commentators have already suggested that the Shield is the most critical economic, regulatory package since the 1989 Balcerowicz Plan which transitioned Poland into a capitalist market economy. Still, the consensus is forming among experts that the package is not going to be enough to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Small enterprises without savings and most-affected by the lockdown are still very likely to go under. The government argues that its primary goal is to protect employment, but a considerable number of Poles has already found themselves without an income. Economic prognoses for Poland range from a 1% GDP growth in 2020, through to the most pessimistic scenario by Morgan Stanley – a negative GDP growth of 5.6% which would constitute the first shrinkage of the Polish economy in nearly thirty years.