Fiscal Sustainability in Poland: How Did the Public Policy Shift of 2016–2019 Impact the Country’s Long-Term
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Publication date: 2021-12-15
Ekonomista 2021;(6):777-798
In 2016–2019 Poland experienced a major social and fiscal policy shift: new government decreased the statutory retirement age and launched several new social programs, including the sweeping Family 500+ program under which social expenditure on family and children support increased suddenly from 1.5% to nearly 3% of GDP. Moreover, VAT gap reduction policies have been implemented swiftly. The new policy move became highly controversial. Many economists argued that overall it would lead to a significant deterioration of long-term fiscal sustainability. The government argued in turn that the new program was well financed by a complementary policy of VAT gap reduction and saw no risk to country’s fiscal sustainability. This paper provides one of the first evidence of the adverse effect of the policy shift on long-term fiscal sustainability. The analysis reveals that fiscal sustainability parameters have deteriorated significantly after 2016. Overall, the estimations presented in the paper show that in the period of 2016–2019 fiscal sustainability parameters may have been the lowest since Poland joined the EU in 2004. While these results should be treated with caution as they draw on very recent time series, the deterioration of Poland’s fiscal sustainability raises a pertinent policy question related to country’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular in terms of the ability to use standard and non-standard fiscal policy instruments and monetary policy tools in response to the shock.
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