WARSAW, June 6 (Reuters) - A planned bill to help Polish holders of costly Swiss franc-denominated mortgages will not create risks for banks, Finance Minister Pawel Szalamacha told the Polska daily in an interview published on Monday.
More than half a million Poles took out franc-denominated loans around a decade ago to benefit from low Swiss interest rates, but they now face much bigger repayments as the franc has doubled in value in recent years.
On Sunday, the Polish president’s office said a new FX loan bill would be sent to parliament by the end of June.
“If there is a bill, and work on it begins, I will definitely ensure that it solves the issue, but does not lead to tensions and risks in the banking sector. That will be my role,” Szalamacha told the Polska daily.
Lenders say forced loan conversions, returning excessive exchange-rate spreads and other ideas floated by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and its ally, President Andrzej Duda, could put the whole sector in the red.
In January, Duda proposed full conversion of foreign loans at a “fair” rate, close to the rate they were taken out at, but financial sector regulator KNF has estimated that could cost Polish lenders more than four times their 2015 profits.
Szalamacha also said that the government’s planned supermarket tax would bring in “significantly” more than experts’ estimates of 600 million zlotys ($155 million) this year.
He also said that PiS’ flagship child benefit scheme, financed largely through new taxes, will be “fully funded” for as long as the party stays power.
The child benefit programme, which sees families with two children get 500 zlotys per month, with a further 500 zlotys for every additional child, will cost an estimated 17 billion zlotys this year, and 23 billion annually from next year.
Commenting on PiS’ promise to lower Poland’s retirement age, Szalamacha said that he supports combining age with years worked in establishing eligibility.
$1 = 3.8716 zlotys Reporting by Wiktor Szary; editing by Jason Neely