Finance Minister backs compromise on Church funding
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland's finance minister has said the is “ready to sign” a compromise bill on new ways to fund the clergy, as part of the government’s austerity drive.
The government wants to cut the so-called Church Fund, a move that would save the State 89 million zloty per year (21.4 million euro).
But Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski has declared himself in support of the idea allowing Polish citizens to channel 0.3 percent of their yearly taxes to the Church.
“The compromise concerning the tax deduction for the Church seems sensible,” he told the RMF FM radio station on Monday.
“I'm ready to sign it,” he added.
On 15 March, Minister of Administration and Digitisation Michal Boni outlined proposals to abolish the Church Fund. Reforms would bring an end to the state bearing the burden of the clergy's health and social insurance costs.
Minister Boni suggested that in line with other citizens, clergymen should cover their own costs.
However, he suggested that Polish citizens could allot 0.3 of their taxes to the Church.
The Church Fund was set up by the communist authorities in 1950, as a means of compensating for ecclesiastical property that was confiscated after the war.
The government has estimated that in spite of the abolition of the Church Fund, 100 million zloty per year (24.1 million euro) could be raised for the Church, if the 0.3 percent tax proposal is introduced.
In spite of the money that is currently provided via the Church Fund, the vast majority of the Church's annual funding – some 80 percent – already comes directly through donations by the faithful.
On March 15, Minister Boni asked representatives of the principal religious organisations to submit their opinions on the proposals within thirty days.
Although Poland is predominantly Roman Catholic, all denominations are covered by the Church Fund. (nh/pg)