Describe the main characteristics of the budgetary process (cycle, actors, instruments, etc.) in Poland
The Polish Constitution enshrines the general principles of the budgetary process. Art. 221 PC indicates that the Council of Ministers has an exclusive right to introduce legislation concerning the Budget (ustawa budżetowa), an interim budget, amendments to the Budget, a statute on the contracting of public debt, as well as a statute granting financial guarantees by the State. The project of the budget has to be approved by the Council of Ministers as a whole before presenting it to Sejm (Art. 146 par. 4 pt 5 PC). Infra-constitutional acts (normative acts, such as statutes, regulations, etc., they are generally binding) provide that the Council of Ministers has to consult the project of the Budgetary act (first draft of the future budgetary act which is often called Budget; budgetary act contains an economic projection of the state budget; it has a form of a legislative act (ustawa), the Constitution and the Public Finances Act contain the rules for creating budget, see question III.3). Next, no later than three months before the fiscal year starts, the Council of Ministers submits to the Sejm a draft Budget for the next year. In exceptional instances, the draft may be submitted later.
After the approval of the Budget in the Sejm, the Budget is passed to the Senat. The Senat may amend the Budget within 20 days, but it cannot reject the Budget. Next, the President of Poland signs the Budget or interim Budget within seven days of submission by the Marshal of the Sejm and orders its promulgation in the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland (Dziennik Ustaw). Before signing the Budget (which is an obligation), the President of Poland may also refer to the Constitutional Court to review the conformity of the Budget or interim budget with the Constitution. The Constitutional Court is obliged to adjudicate this issue within two months from the day of submission of the reference by the President.
If within four months after the draft Budget was referred to the Sejm it is not presented to the President for the signature, the President may within fourteen days shorten the parliamentary term.
The Council of Ministers executes the Budget. Within five months following the end of the fiscal year, the Council of Ministers presents to the Sejm a report on the implementation of the Budget together with information on the condition of the State debt. The Sejm has to consider the report within 90 days following its receipt, and, after seeking the opinion of the Supreme Chamber of Control, it passes a resolution on whether to grant or refuse to grant approval of the financial accounts submitted by the Council of Ministers, so-called absolutorium. The lack of approval does not cause any negative consequences for the government; the government is not obliged to resign.
In general, the Budget is characterised by two principles enshrined in Art. 219 PC. The Budget is provided for one year and has to have a form of a legislative act (statute; ustawa). Moreover, Art. 220 PC enshrines a principle of limitation and control over the budgetary deficit. It means that the increase in spending or the reduction in revenues from those planned by the Council of Ministers may not lead to the adoption by the Sejm of a budget deficit exceeding the level provided in the draft Budget. In this regard, the budgetary deficit cannot be covered by loans from the central bank.
How has the budgetary process changed since the beginning of the financial/Eurozone crisis?
The main change is the new stabilising fiscal rule (Cf. Question VII.7) and in the timeline since the date of publication of the actual convergence program was changed to April, which hence accelerated works on the Multi-Year Financial Plan of the State (Cf. Questions VII.8 and II.4).
What institutional changes are brought about by the changes in the budgetary process, e.g. relating to competences of parliament, government, the judiciary and independent advisory bodies?
No institutional changes in the functions of the judiciary have taken place in Poland. In the same vein, the competences of the parliament have not been amended. The competences of the parliament have been reformed in 2010 regulating the information from the government to the parliament before the Council meetings. The main change is the new fiscal rule (See Question VII.7), which limits the spending of the government.
Change of time-line
How has the time-line of the budgetary cycle changed as a result of the implementation of Euro-crisis law?
In the time-lime of the budgetary process, due to the European Semester, only the date of publication of the actual convergence program was changed to April, which hence accelerated works on the Multi-Year Financial Plan of the State.
What other information is relevant with regard to Poland and changes to the budgetary process?
A study published in 2013 by the European Parliament found that only a few member states had held parliamentary debates on their National Reform Programmes (NRPs). With regard to Poland, the study indicates that the NRP has not been discussed in the parliament.
In fact, the NRP in Poland was only briefly mentioned in the plenary debate of 9 November 2012, when the MPs discussed government’s information on Poland’s participation in the EU. It was underlined in the debate that the Commission positively assessed Poland’s “macroeconomic scenario” and the Polish government also internally confirmed the indicated necessary reforms. The Commission recommendations of 2013 within the European Semester were discussed at the Sejm’s European Affairs Committee on 7 June 2013.