Poland’s government, eying local elections, sees $1.6 billion spending on roads

Poland’s government, with an eye to regional elections in October, agreed on Tuesday to increase spending on the country’s roads.

The ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party wants to raise spending on secondary roads, excluding express highways and motorways, to more than 6 billion zlotys ($1.63 billion) in 2019 from 1.3 billion zlotys this year, its ministers for infrastructure and development said.

In total, the government expects expenditure on local roads at 36 billion zlotys in 2019-2028.

“By 2028 we will spend at least 36 billion zlotys, there has not been such a big program before,” the Development Minister, Jerzy Kwiecinski, told a televised conference.

The former government had spent 5.2 billion zlotys on local roads between 2009 and 2015, Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk said speaking at the same conference.

Poland will hold local elections on Oct. 21 with a second round on Nov. 4.

The vote could give the PiS, which rules nationally and enjoys strong public support but is in a minority in most regional administrations, a stronger foothold in local governments.

Since coming to power in 2015, PiS has introduced cash stipends for families, increased the minimum wage and lowered the retirement age in the country of 38 million.

Robust economic growth estimated at some 4.6 percent this year, plus growing employment, improved tax collection and a falling unemployment rate, have shielded the budget from problems so far despite the higher social transfers.

But economists warn that Poland may begin to suffer from weaker economic sentiment prevailing across Europe, wage pressures and labor shortages in the coming years.

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