Families have already received over PLN 13 billion under the government Family 500+ programme, said Minister Elżbieta Rafalska, summing up the year of work of her ministry.
Benefits from Family 500+ programme were granted to approx. 2.7 million families that bring up approx. 3.8 million children, including 220,000 disabled children. Approximately 42% of benefits are paid for the first or only child. More than 1.5 million children receive this benefit. According to Minister Rafalska,
only children constitute 40 percent of this number.
Furthermore, Minister Rafalska stressed that owing to the 500+ programme the risk of poverty among children up to 17 years of age will be reduced by almost a half. She added that one of the effects of this programme which is already visible is the decrease in the number of recipients of social benefits by nearly 130 thousand. Minister Rafalska stated that
concerns that funds obtained under the 500+ programme will be squandered proved to be unfounded. She stressed that
the financial benefit was converted to assistance in kind only in case of 0.03 percent of all decisions – there were only 813 such decisions issued. Minister Rafalska also highlighted that the forecasts indicating that the 500+ programme will lead to the exit of women from the labour market did not come true.
Women do not intend to leave their job – on the contrary, 5 percent of them declared that they intend to take up employment, stated Elżbieta Rafalska.
Shaping the national identity on the basis of Polish culture and history
First of all, in the passing year we were able to prepare a significantly better budget for culture. For the first time ever this budget exceed 1 percent of the State budget. When the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński was summing up
the first year of his work, he declared that in 2017 expenditure on culture will increase by 6 percent in real terms, i.e. by more than PLN 200 million.
In 2016 we have created a new network of museums and cultural institutions, which have been neglected in the previous years and which include various museums of great importance for Poland – we intend to continue our activities in this field in the future, stated Minister Gliński.
The Minister of Culture, Piotr Gliński, listed the museums managed and co-managed by the Ministry, inter alia the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II in Markowa, the Cursed Soldiers Museum in Ostrołęka, the Regional Museum in Wiślica, Kresy Museum in Lubaczów and the Family Home of Pilecki Family Museum in Ostrów Mazowiecka.
No compulsory education for 6-year olds and “Good School” programme
The highest quality of education in a safe, small or large school – that is our primary goal, stated Minister of Education Anna Zalewska during a press conference.
To address the expectations of many parents and teachers, which were expressed numerous times during various meetings organised in different parts of the country, a decision was taken to introduce a new system of education. The reform aims to modify the organisational structure of schools and educational institutions. Most of all, lower secondary school education will be gradually stopped and an 8-year primary school and a 4-year general secondary school will start operating. Changes in the system of education will be introduced in cooperation with parents and pedagogical circles.
Minister Anna Zalewska also recalled, that by restoring compulsory education from 7 years of age, the Ministry of Education fulfilled the request of ca. 2 million parents. The parents of 6-year olds no longer have to forcibly send their children to primarily school. They can choose whether to leave their child in a pre-school, or whether to send it to the first grade of primary school. The reform entered into force on 1 September 2016 – as a result more than 80 percent of the parents left their children in pre-school.
Free medication for senior citizens over 75 years of age
From 1 September 2016 senior citizens over 75 years of age are able to obtain access to free medication. The list of free medication includes 1129 items, which cover 68 active substances. Owing to the 75+ project this group of patient’s expenditure on reimbursed medication will decrease by more than 40 percent in 2016, and by more than 60 percent in the subsequent years.
As a result the amounts that the patients covered by the 75+ project spend on reimbursed education will decrease in the next year by 65 percent, i.e. by PLN 564 million per annum, stated Minister of Health Konstanty Radziwiłł. The Minister added that
he does everything in his power to provide the patients with better access to medication and that he conducts negotiations with relevant companies to adopt reasonable financial terms concerning the purchase of such medication by hospitals and pharmacies.
When referring to fulfilled promises, Minister Radziwiłł pointed to putting a stop to the commercialization of hospitals.
We will never agree to the privatization of public health service, stressed the Minister.
The previous government attempted to commercialise the health service and to treat the patient as an item in the balance sheet, and not as a person requiring help, he stated.
Investment in youth – “Club” sports programme
Developing sport at its foundations constitutes one of our priorities – that is why I have launched a direct support programme for small and medium-sized clubs. It is a ground-breaking project which covers the largest number of beneficiaries in the history of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism. Many of the future champions begin their adventure with sport in such places. This is where the people with true passion for sports and coaches work, stressed the Minister of Sport and Tourism Witold Bańka.
The “Club” programme started a revolution in the field of children and youth sport. Its primary objective is to support the local sports environments and to improve the functioning of sport clubs, which fulfil the role of centres of physical activity and places where sports talents are discovered and shaped.
The Responsible Development Plan
We are determined to ensure sustainable and responsible development. We focus on investment, innovation, development, export, highly processed products, rather than on credit and consumption, stressed Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Finance Mateusz Morawiecki.
Restoring of the Polish economy is based on the idea of economic patriotism. The implemented plan envisages inter alia support of the companies’ development, their productivity and exports as well as steady development of the whole country, which benefits become fully visible for all Poles. We want to increase investments and to spend more on innovations. The plan proposes facilitation measures for enterprises, the reindustrialisation and promotion of savings.
We take very seriously sustainable development, because so far development was seen through the prism of the growth of large agglomerations, major cities, said Deputy Prime Minister Morawiecki.
Restoring of Polish industry
The government cares about good functioning and development of Polish companies. Therefore, the agreement was signed in Sanok, which rescued the Polish company Autosan known primarily for the production of buses. With the rescue of the company it will be possible to develop the region and build the Polish brand.
Our economic and development philosophy, which has guided us for the previous 12 months (...), is a completely different philosophy of development. The industry is important, industry here in the country is very important, therefore by rebuilding the public procurement law, the fundamental law, we have implemented a social clause there. The social clause gives, from the one hand, safe work, better jobs for Poles here in the country, and, on the other hand, gives a better perspective and a chance for Polish companies to win the tender. The Deputy Prime Minister explained that
without prejudice to the EU provisions they give a better chance for Polish companies.
De-bureaucratisation of universities and changing the rules of their financing
Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin presented de-bureaucratisation of universities as one of the most important achievements of his department. He said that they started from cleaning the foreground, i.e. reducing red tape. Jarosław Gowin remined that on October 1 the deregulatory act and seven ordinances entered into force which significantly limit the number of completely unnecessary, bureaucratic duties.
The head of the Ministry of Science also announced that from 1 January 2017 there will be new rules of financing higher education institutions. As he declared the Ministry will focus on the high quality of education, classes in small groups and getting the research grants, especially international ones.
The government adopted the National Housing Programme which aims to support the Polish economy and families, because 40% of Polish families has no credit ability or has too high income to receive support of local governments to get apartment, stressed Minister of Infrastructure and Construction Andrzej Adamczyk. The National Housing Programme is the first comprehensive programme resolving the problems of housing and another important element of support for Polish families.
Minister Adamczyk reminded that under the Apartments+ Programme they will provide affordable housing on the former lands of the State Treasury – to buy or to rent. All citizens will have the right to apply for a lease. The government programme will prefer large families and families with low income.
More cases handled online and shorter queues at offices
According to Minister of Digital Affairs Anna Streżyńska the actions taken by the Ministry of Digital Affairs in the last year resulted in more cases handled online, more time for people and shorter queues at offices.
Digitisation is everywhere, in every area of life and economy. The Minister stressed that
digitisation means savings, economic development, personal development, social participation as well as less red tape in administration and more free time for other activities.
Minister Streżyńska indicated that digital services are provided with the use of important information systems of the State.
It concerns the repair of these state systems and records and a well-known system of access to digital services ePUAP that was carried out throughout the year. One of the benefits is better flow of information between state institutions and the increased availability of digital services for citizens.
Development of mining
Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski said that
the year 2017 will be another year devoted to rescuing the mining industry, but 2018 will be the year of its development.
The Minister recalled that a year ago he promised to make every effort to lead Polish coal company back on track.
Thanks to the systematic work we will keep that promise. All coal companies are improving financial results. Year to year, the loss of the coal mining decreased by more than one billion zlotys, said the Minister Tchórzewski.
Changing the rules of supervision over the companies owned by the State Treasury
The head of the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers Henryk Kowalczyk pointed out that one of the main accomplishments of the Ministry of Treasury is developing new rules for the supervision of State-owned companies. The solutions are intended to enter into force in 2017.
The Minister said that after the liquidation of Ministry of Treasury the most important person in charge of the property of the State Treasury will be the Prime Minister, who will not do this in person, but will delegate the management of individual companies to sectoral ministers.
Minister Kowalczyk reminded also that the law has been developed on the principles of shaping the remuneration of managers of State-owned companies. As he said these are new transparent remuneration principles that depend on the size of the companies, their marketing and economic potential.
The companies will now have a motivational remuneration system, and, more importantly, the previous, excessively high salaries will disappear.
Paris Agreement is beneficial for Poland
We have managed to negotiate the UN agreement on climate which protects our independence in terms of energy, emphasized Minister of Environment Jan Szyszko.
Natural resources are to stimulate economic growth and this is the priority of this government. Poland is unique, we have what the uniting Europe does not have, i.e. huge deposits of traditional sources of energy, such as hard coal, charcoal, shale gas, vast geothermal resources. We are a country which may develop using its own energy resources, and at the same time dictate certain conditions, said the Minister of Environment.
Reconstruction of shipbuilding industry
The Law and Justice government wants the shipbuilding industry to be one of the pillars of our economy, and therefore from the beginning of our term in office we took actions to reconstruct this industry, stated Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation Marek Gróbarczyk.
The Act on activation of shipbuilding industry and complementary industries is the first element of the plan. We assume that shipyards will employ approximately 3000 people soon. It also offers a great support for our suppliers who virtually disappeared after the liquidation of Polish shipyards. It also involves the reconstruction of heavy industry, most of all steelworks, said Minister Gróbarczyk.
Preparations were made to build a canal across the Vistula Spit which will allow Poland to become independent from Russia and will unblock the port in Elbląg. The 1.3 km long canal will connect the Gdańsk Bay with the Vistula Lagoon.
The second extremely important project was the return to the concept of building a canal across the Vistula Spit. The project was adopted in 2007, but our predecessors rejected it in its entirety. We adopted a multiannual programme for building a canal across the Vistula Spit, which is of great importance in several areas, mainly in terms of security, explained Minister Gróbarczyk.
Protection of Polish land
In order to protect Polish agricultural holdings and Polish soil, the sale of property included in the Agricultural Property Stock of the State Treasury has been suspended for 5 years.
We introduced new rules in private trade in land, so that it can be bought only by farmers. Thus we halted the bad practice of foreigners buying the Polish agricultural land, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Krzysztof Jurgiel.
A draft act to increase the availability of agricultural crops insurance to agricultural producers was adopted and provides for state budget subsidies to insurance premiums. Minister Jurgiel emphasized that the Mutual Insurance Society was to be re-established on 1 January 2017.
I think that this diktat of insurance companies will be overcome, he said.
Territorial Defence Forces and the NATO summit in Warsaw
Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz presented the establishment of Territorial Defence Forces, which are to be a separate type of armed forces, as one of the major achievements of his ministry. He reminded that three brigades of those Forces were to be established by the end of the year in Podlaskie, Lubelskie and Podkarpackie voivodeships. The Forces will comprise approx. 3,000 soldiers this year, 18,000 next year and 53,000 in 2019. The Minister added that the Act introducing territorial defence in this form had already been submitted to the Sejm and would soon be passed.
In terms of cooperation with our allies, the most important events during the year include the organisation of the NATO summit in Warsaw, at which the plans envisaging that allied forces would be stationed in Poland were confirmed, stated Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz.
Security during the World Youth Day
During the WYD our services demonstrated their excellent cooperation and professionalism, which was noticed by Poles and visitors from abroad. The professionalism of Polish services was appreciated by Pope Francis himself, by journalists from all over the world, as well as by pilgrims, 2.5 million of whom participated in the mass in Brzegi.
Minister of the Interior and Administration Mariusz Błaszczak said that pilgrims leaving Poland said that it was a hospitable and safe country.
We broke the stereotypes about us, disseminated somewhere abroad. Pilgrims left with the best impressions from meetings with the Pope and Poles. This was because the services responsible for security provided assistance to pilgrims and served them.
Minister Błaszczak also talked about reopening of the Police stations liquidated in recent years by the government of the Civic Platform and the Polish Peasants’ Party.
We want Poles to feel secure and safe in the place where they live, he said.
Departmental Poland is overcome
During the organisation of the World Youth Day, the so-called departmental Poland was for the first time fully overcome, emphasized the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister Beata Kempa. She added that when taking over her office she had not expected that the preparations for this important event would be so neglected and delayed by many months. “There were no schedules, no security plans, no tenders announced for basic infrastructure.”
Minister Kempa also informed that within a year the Prime Minister received approx. 50 foreign delegations, including 16 Prime Ministers and Presidents, at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. At that time Beata Szydło made 24 travels abroad.
We actually changed the area of justice – said Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro when summarising the year of his resort’s work.
The law on the prosecution was changed so as to guarantee that the prosecution will act rapidly and decisively and to ensure safety for Poles and protection of their rights and interests. The Act puts an end to the pathology within which the government put informal pressure on the prosecution and avoid responsibility for this pressure at the same time.
The minister also spoke about the ban on taking children away from their parents due to poverty.
We did it – it was possible to do so. There are no such cases any more, the law was adopted, we protect the interest of Polish children and we will also guarantee support for such families – underlined Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro. The Family and Guardianship Code was changed so as to prohibit taking children away from their parents due to poor financial conditions. If children receive a good care from their family, then poverty cannot be a reason to take them away from their parents.
Security policy and strengthening the eastern flank of NATO
Our insistent persuasion lead to a constant military presence of NATO on the eastern flank and to an improvement of the security status of the new Alliance countries – argued Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski.
As he added, insistent activities of
the wide Polish diplomacy: the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed to make it clear that realistic guarantees of safety can be realised only through the presence of allied forces.
Minister Witold Waszczykowski spoke about strengthening the role of Poland as a leader of the Visegrad Group. As he underlined,
it is us who are considered in Europe as a country, a region, the Visegard Group or a wider group of the countries of Central and Eastern European countries, as those who propose constructive solutions.
He added that
we actively and constructively participated on the international scene even in spite of how our opposition sometimes acts, taking political conflicts outside or even calling for boycott of important initiatives, which had been to take place in Poland.