President Duda signs budget bill into law

Polish President Andrzej Duda has signed a controversial bill about the 2017 budget which was at the centre of a four-week standoff between the ruling and opposition parties. The news was announced on Friday afternoon by the office of the President.

The opposition Civic Platform (PO) party has called the bill “illegal”, after it was passed in a contentious vote in the lower house on 16 December.

The governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has said that there were no irregularities with the vote.

In a statement on social media, Prime Minister Beata Szydło applauded the decision to sign the bill. She said that the the 2017 budget provides for, among other issues, the 500+ programme, free drugs for pensioners, the Home+ programme, lowering the retirement age, better national security and development.

Duda had earlier said he would verify whether the bill and the vote were in line with the constitution.

In a tweet, PO leader Grzegorz Schetyna wrote: “By signing this budget bill which was passed in questionable circumstances, [the president] legitimised breaking of the law.” He added that the president “must face the consequences”.

The vote of the 2017 budget was at the heart of a parliamentary crisis in Poland, which saw opposition MPs stage a sit-in protest since 16 December until PO suspended the protest on Thursday.

The Polish upper house of parliament passed the budget on Wednesday.

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