WARSAW, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki launched a programme on Thursday to help Poland’s economy withstand the hit from the COVID-19 pandemic and save the worst-affected industries that is worth about $9-10 billion.
Emerging Europe’s largest economy weathered the first wave of the pandemic better than many others, but after a strong recovery in the summer it looks set to slide back into recession in the fourth quarter as a second wave hits.
“Today it is necessary to save industries in the most difficult situation, and in 2021 to support entrepreneurs in terms of investment, economy and business, as well as employees,” Morawiecki told a news conference.
Morawiecki said the programme would be worth 35 billion to 40 billion zlotys ($9.33 billion to $10.67 billion), with 3 billion zlotys in aid for micro firms, 5 billion zlotys for small firms and the remaining 25-27 billion zlotys going to medium-sized and large firms.
Pawel Borys, chief executive of the Polish Development Fund (PFR), a state-run economic support fund, said the economy may contract by 3-4% in the fourth quarter compared to the third.
“The second wave of the pandemic is much milder in terms of the economy,” Borys told a separate news conference. “Our data shows that last week we reached the bottom of the economic situation during the second wave of the pandemic.”
Borys said GDP growth may be 4-6% in 2021.
The PFR plays an important role in the government’s economic aid for companies, raising money on bond markets and distributing it to companies.
Poland had by Wednesday reported more than 924,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 15,000 deaths from the disease.
During the first wave of the pandemic, Poland launched a programme of spending, loan guarantees and central bank liquidity measures worth more than 300 billion zlotys.
In early November, Morawiecki announced support worth 9-10 billion zlotys to help the economy survive the second wave.
($1 = 3.7495 zlotys)
(Reporting by Alan Charlish,Pawel Florkiewicz, Anna Koper, Alicja Ptak; Editing by Robert Birsel, William Maclean and Timothy Heritage)