Polish president to review constitutionality of pension reform

WARSAW Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:59am EDT

Bronislaw Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland, addresses the 68th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mary Altaffer/Pool

Bronislaw Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland, addresses the 68th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York September 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mary Altaffer/Pool

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said on Thursday he will review government pension reforms to ensure they are in line with the country's constitution and will benefit future pensioners.

The government plans to shift a large chunk of assets held by Poland's private pension funds to the state, a change it says will bring down public debt but which critics have called a de facto nationalization.

The president, who needs to approve new legislation, has the option of sending bills back to parliament or to the country's constitutional tribunal, a move which would slow the legislative process.

"First, it will need to be studied whether these solutions are constitutional because we cannot have law in this area that raises doubts from the perspective of the constitution," Komorowski told tabloid Super Express in an interview.

The president said the changes would also be reviewed to make sure that they were of benefit to future pensioners.

The planned reform would allow the government more scope to borrow and spend, helping to pull the economy out of a downturn in the run-up to a series of elections starting next year.

But the plan has alarmed some in Prime Minister Donald Tusk's party, who say it could damage business confidence and alienate some pro-free market voters.

One of the president's aides, Irena Woycicka, said in September that plans to ban the privately-managed pension funds from investing in treasury bonds were questionable because they could increase risks for future pensioners.

She did not say whether the president would reject the changes, ask the constitutional tribunal for a review or just sign them into law.

The pension reform is now in consultations and is expected to be sent to parliament in about a month.

(Reporting By Karolina Slowikowska; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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