Polish ruling party moves forward on lowering retirement age

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's new ruling conservative party is moving forward on legislation to lower the retirement age from 67 years to 60 for women and 65 for men, with the prime minister promising Wednesday that it would not be a huge burden to state finances.

The legislation will reverse reforms by the previous pro-market government, which raised the retirement age to improve the budget in what was a deeply unpopular move. The new law is all but certain to pass since the ruling Law and Justice party has both a majority in parliament and the support of the president, who has veto power of laws.

In this case, it was President Andrzej Duda who introduced a draft of the bill to the the lower house of parliament, which gave it a first reading on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said that Poles will have a choice: they can retire early or keep working past 60 or 65 if they have the strength and desire to do so.

Those who retire earlier would receive a lower pension, but it is not yet clear by how much. One government member suggested that earlier retirees might receive 30 percent less than those who work until age 67, but Szydlo denied such pensions would be that much lower.

Ryszard Petru, head of a pro-market opposition party, criticized the legislation and said it would be very bad for women. Many of them could be forced to retire at 60 by employers even if they want to work longer and end up with radically reduced pensions.

"This project is bad for Poles, bad for future generations and very disadvantageous for women," Petru said.

Law and Justice won a parliamentary election in October on promises to help struggling Poles. Lowering the retirement age was one of the party's central promises.

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