Poland announces new contribution plan for pensions

Poland's government unveiled Tuesday details of a voluntary pension program intended to encourage many Poles to start saving and to protect low-earners from post-retirement poverty.

Under the program, employees, employers and the government will regularly contribute small amounts into individual accounts.

The program, which is aimed at some 11.5 million people on job contracts who have little or no savings and is due to be launched next year, is intended to ease the pressure on the state-run retirement system, which is considered to be insufficient to meet future requirements.

The program is the latest social policy change by the ruling Law and Justice Party that has earned it significant support among low-earners. Government statistics show 75 percent of Poland's 38 million-population have no savings at all. Earnings in Poland are among the lowest in the EU.

Other measures such as increased allowances for children and the provision of some education costs have won the party support, and helped it fend off criticism from the European Union over many of its policies, not least changes to the justice system.

"Our social programs are intended to react to great shortages and problems of everyday life, but we are also offering proposals for many years ahead," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

The pensions announcement comes less than two months ahead of crucial local elections in which the ruling party is aiming to strengthen its hold on power.