Polish challenger Duda calls for new taxes on banks, supermarkets

By Marcin Goettig

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish presidential candidate Andrzej Duda said on Sunday Poland should introduce new taxes on banks and large supermarket networks to protect Polish businesses.

Duda won the first round of presidential elections last week and polls give him a lead ahead of incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski in the second round due on May 24.

Speaking in a televised debate with Komorowski, Duda pledged he would do everything to lower the retirement age, increase the personal tax allowance and protect Polish businesses.

Most of the Polish banking sector and large supermarket networks are foreign-owned.

“Polish entrepreneurship should be protected and supported, for example by putting the tax burden on large networks of supermarkets, which in relation to their revenue pay peanuts in taxes. One needs a tax here,” Duda said in his final remarks.

“One needs to introduce a tax on bank assets. All this can be done, one just needs the will to do it,” Duda said in the debate aired by state TVP broadcaster.

The Polish president can veto and propose new legislation, but has no direct influence over tax policy.

Still, some analysts say that if Duda wins the presidential election, it could pave the way for his opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) to succeed in the autumn parliamentary election.

Duda did not give any details regarding the proposed new taxes, which echo those introduced by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Hungary has one of the highest bank taxes in Europe and also levied taxes on supermarkets.

Supermarkets and banks in Poland pay a regular 19 percent corporate income tax rate. Banks additionally pay contributions to the banking guarantee fund.

The large foreign-owned banks in Poland include Unicredit’s Bank Pekao <PEO.WA>, Santander’s Bank Zachodni WBK <BZW.WA> and Commerzbank’s mBank <MBK.WA>.

Large retail chains in Poland include Auchan, Tesco <TSCO.L> and Jeronimo Martin’s <JMT.LS> Biedronka.

(Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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