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7 months ago
Poland's president signs disputed 2017 state budget into law
January 13, 2017 / 3:37 PM / 7 months ago

Poland's president signs disputed 2017 state budget into law

Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of 1956 anti-Communist uprising in Budapest, Hungary, October 23, 2016.Laszlo Balogh - RTX2Q2VX

WARSAW (Reuters) - The Polish president has signed into law the country's budget for 2017, a budget that opposition lawmakers say was passed illegally.

Legislators from the opposition Civic Platform (PO) and Nowoczesna parties said the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party passed the 2017 budget last month without the necessary number of lawmakers present.

PiS lawmakers rejected the accusations and moved to approve the budget in the Senate. Polish President Andrzej Duda approved the budget on Friday.

"The president being fully confident about its legality, has signed the act into law," Marek Magierowski, a Duda spokesman, told reporters.

PiS holds an outright majority in both houses of parliament, but the opposition has said not enough lawmakers of the lower chamber were present when the budget was approved in December.

PiS members of parliament had moved the budget vote to an auxiliary room in the lower chamber when opposition lawmakers blocked the parliamentary podium, to protest a plan to limit the access journalists would have to parliament.

Opposition deputies have said because reporters could not get into the auxiliary room, it was hard to make sure the required quorum was present.

PiS has said the required number of deputies - 230 - took part in the vote. There are 460 seats in the lower chamber.

A summary of the vote published by the lower chamber showed 236 MPs took part with 234 voting to pass the budget. Individual voting results have not been published; they are usually published after each vote.

The 2017 budget envisages a general government deficit of 2.9 percent of gross domestic product - just under the European Union threshold of 3 percent - and economic growth at 3.6 percent. The government estimates the deficit shrank to 2.4 pct in 2016.

This year's budget also envisages a limit on expenditure at 385 billion zlotys (£76.4 billion) and expected revenue at 325 billion.

Poland's 10-year bond yields and the zloty currency remained relatively stable this week.

(The story was refiled to restore the missing word `not' to the ninth paragraph.)

Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Justyna Pawlak, Larry King

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