Poland lowers retirement age, amid economic slowdown

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2016 10:06 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's lawmakers voted Wednesday to lower the retirement age in a reversal of a 2012 reform, despite questions about financing of the new system.

The lower house voted 262-149 with 19 abstentions to allow women to retire at the age of 60 and men at 65, as of October 2017.

Under the current system the threshold is being gradually raised to 67 for both sexes. In introducing it, the previous government argued that Poles, in an aging nation, need to work longer to secure themselves a sufficient level of pensions.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo assured that there are enough state funds for earlier pensions, chiefly coming from more efficient tax collection.

"Our government has kept the promise and we will continue to implement the reforms that Poles are waiting for," Szydlo said in Parliament before the vote.

Lowering the retirement age was a key electoral promise of the conservative Law and Justice party, which took power a year ago and is pursuing a policy of social benefits. Latest data show a slowing of the economy and a weakening of the local currency, the zloty.

But economists say the plan isn't viable.

"Poland cannot afford it," said Christopher A. Hartwell, president of the Center for Social and Economic Research.

"I don't know where the government is going to get the money for this," he said, skeptical about the government relying on higher income from tax.

He said the move is "popular" and makes "fiscal sense," but doesn't make economic sense.