July 13, 2016 / 5:15 PM / 3 years ago

Poland to spend on boosting its image, defending coal industry

File photo of a bulldozer working on a heap of coal at the Boleslaw Smialy coal mine, a unit of coal miner Kompania Weglowa (KW), in Laziska Gorne, Silesia, southern Poland September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s state-controlled firms will pay $25 million per year to finance a foundation aimed at bolstering its reputation abroad, Treasury Minister Dawid Jackiewicz said on Wednesday.

He said one of the foundation’s tasks will be to defend Poland’s coal industry from European Union plans to curb carbon emissions.

Since winning the first outright parliamentary majority since Poland’s 1989 transition from communism, the Law and Justice (PiS) party has overhauled the rules governing the constitutional court, prompting the EU executive to launch an unprecedented inquiry in January into whether the party has weakened the rule of law — a notion PiS mostly rejects.

“Poland is gaining today a strong weapon in the fight for its good name,” Jackiewicz told a news conference with Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, announcing the Polish National Foundation.

He said it would have an annual budget of over 100 million zlotys ($25 million), roughly the same as the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate.

“We are a country with great ambitions, we want to conquer the world, conquer markets. We are prepared and now it’s time to make the next step and launch the National Foundation,” Szydlo said.

PiS, backed by about 40 percent of Poles according to opinion polls, has sought to increase or solidify state control over economic sectors including banking, energy and chemicals.

Even before the party replaced a centrist government last year, a 2013 study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed Poland had one of the highest levels of state control among its members.

On Monday, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the government should recruit “very serious” firms outside Poland act to its defend Poland’s reputation.

Reporting by Jakub Iglewski, Marcin Goettig, and Marcin Goclowski; Writing by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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