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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Polish ruling party highlights tax fraud on campaign trail

05.09.2019 07:30
With elections near, Poland’s ruling conservatives have launched a campaign to highlight what they say were cases of massive fuel smuggling and tax fraud under the country’s previous government.
Mateusz Morawiecki and Joachim Brudziński during a news conference in Świecko on the Polish-German border on Wednesday.
Mateusz Morawiecki and Joachim Brudziński during a news conference in Świecko on the Polish-German border on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Lech Muszyński

The campaign is part of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s vigorous efforts to widen its lead, ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections, over the opposition Civic Platform (PO) group, which previously governed the country in coalition with the rural-based Polish People’s Party (PSL).

The "Truckloads of Shame” drive, launched by the ruling conservatives on Wednesday, aims to show that money was leaking out of public coffers in a broad stream through fuel smuggling and value-added tax evasion when the PO-PSL administration was in power from 2007 to 2015.

While launching the drive, Poland’s conservative Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the previous government was losing money by the truckloads and that some 500 to 600 tanker trucks with smuggled fuel would illegally cross into the country every day.

This generated anywhere from PLN 20 million (EUR 4.6 million, USD 5 million) to PLN 24 million in daily losses for the government, according to Morawiecki.

Giving a news conference against the background of tanker trucks in Świecko on the Polish-German border, Morawiecki argued that his own administration has clamped down on fraudsters and “white-collar bandits.”

Funds secured in this way have been channeled for his conservative government’s flagship Family 500+ child benefit programme and other social assistance initiatives, he said.

The Law and Justice party’s election campaign chief, Joachim Brudziński, told reporters that a “convoy of shame” would hit the road and make stops around the country “to make Polish voters aware of just how vulnerable the public finance system was when politicians from the Civic Platform and the Polish People's Party were holding the purse strings."

The head of a parliamentary probe into suspected cases of massive VAT tax fraud under Poland’s previous government last month proposed putting two former prime ministers and two ex-finance ministers before a special tribunal.

Witold Modzelewski, one of the architects of Poland’s value-added tax system and deputy finance minister from 1992 to 1996, told the parliamentary investigators in September last year that the so-called VAT gap ballooned in Poland between 2007 and 2015, leading to billions of zlotys in losses for public coffers.

Poland lost hundreds of billions in uncollected taxes under its previous Civic Platform-led government, according to a report released by a tax advisory firm run by Modzelewski.

Poles will vote in parliamentary elections on October 13.

After four years in power, Morawiecki's governing Law and Justice party is bidding for a second term following a landslide win in 2015.

(gs/pk)

Source: TVP Info, PAP, IAR