Polish government acts to save 9 billion euros in EU funds

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's new government said Tuesday it is taking steps to use some 9 billion euros ($9.8 billion) in funds made available from the European Union that could otherwise be lost.

The minister for development, Mateusz Morawiecki, said the money had not been properly allotted by the previous government and could be lost at the end of the year. He noted the sum was higher than Poland's annual defense budget.

"We cannot afford to lose this money because it should work for the development of Poland's economy. It means jobs that we are trying to save," Morawiecki told a news conference.

The EU budget earmarks funds to some countries to help economic development. The money has to be used within a given time, or it is withdrawn.

In agreement with the EU, the Polish government is reclassifying some of the funds to be able to take advantage of a larger amount. The European Commission has also agreed to extend the deadline for some financing deals.

The money will be used, among other things, for the purchase of new, Polish-made trains by the state-run railway and to upgrade the health service's computer system.

Also Tuesday, the parliament was debating next year's budget, which estimates a deficit of 2.8 percent of GDP, economic growth of 3.8 percent and inflation at around 1.7 percent.

Poland's economy, which emerged from the communist system in 1990, is among the fastest developing in the EU.

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