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Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has just announced the distribution of 4.35 billion zlotys to the local governments. The money comes from the competitive grant portion of the governmental Local Investment Fund, which was supposed to be a support program for local governments whose budgets have suffered during the pandemic. Among others, the non-refundable support is supposed to sponsor infrastructural and educational projects or digitalization.
However, virtually none of the large cities receive a dime from the competitive grants.
We received zero zlotys from the government
The money that comes from the special COVID-19 fund is divided by the central government according to its own criteria, which were never made public - the procedure lacks any transparency, in contrast to for example the EU funds.
The Pomeranian Province will receive 237 million zlotys from the grants, but neither Gdańsk nor Gdynia obtained any support.
- The Prime Minister announced that within the framework of the governmental programme there will be no division into Poland A, B or C based on political criteria. Instead, what we have is a list of projects that as far as we know were arbitrarily picked. We received zero zlotys from the government, even though we submitted projects for hundreds of millions," says Piotr Grzelak, the deputy mayor of Gdańsk, who announced that he would submit applications for public information to the Prime Minister to disclose the criteria for dividing the money, the composition of the evaluation committee and the evaluation of each application together with its justification.
The press office of the Pomorskie Province Governor explained that the decisions were made by the government "on the basis of the recommendations of the committee for support of local government units. - We did not receive any information about the criteria and procedures. Is it by any chance linked to political preferences? - Grzelak wonders.
The public officials of the largest cities are not a bunch of idiots
The authorities of Łódź applied for 431 million PLN. Just like Gdańsk, they got nothing.
According to the politicians in opposition to the ruling camp, the fact that none of the largest cities received the money is no accident. - It is hard to believe that the public officials of the biggest cities were a bunch of idiots who couldn't prepare proper grant applications and uniformly messed up the case - Bartosz Domaszewicz, a councillor of the Citizens' Coalition in Łódź, comments angrily - The arbitrary nature of the procedure is very clear; the local governments which are not governed by the Law and Justice received a very clear signal.
Councillors of the Civic Coalition and the Democratic Left Alliance in Łódź point out that projects of the same type from other local governments in the region, e.g. thermomodernizations and road construction, received money. The capital of the region was an odd exception.
The deputy mayor of Poznan Mariusz Wiśniewski was equally bitter: "The Law and Justice government has rejected all the grant applications for funding of investments for residents (roads, schools, sports facilities and many others) submitted by Poznan and other large cities . The Prime Minister speaks about how we wouldn;t divide Poland based on political criteria, yet this is exactly what he did! Mr. Prime Minister, the women and men of Poznań also pay taxes, of which you should share the funds fairly".
More regions expressed their dismay
Katowice received 13.5 million PLN for three investments, although the city counted on 130 million PLN for 23 investments. Sosnowiec and Chorzów did not get a dime. Law and Justice does not rule in any of these cities. - We do not know why we did not get any funding. We will ask for explanations, we are counting on a substantive answer - says Marcin Michalik, Deputy Mayor of Chorzów.
The authorities of Świętochłowice, on the other hand, are very satisfied with the distribution. Situated mere several kilometers away from Chorzów and Katowice and with a population of nearly 50 thousand people, it received 28 million zlotys for seven projects. The local mayor Daniel Beger was on the honorary committee to support Andrzej Duda before this year's elections.
- A few months ago I informed you that as a city we are filling out the grant applications hoping that the government's actions will be a real support for our local activities - reminded Andrzej Nowakowski, President of Plock, population 120 thousand - Unfortunately, despite submitting 17 different applications, all of which we are ready to implement, we did not receive any support. The inhabitants may feel a huge disappointment. Plock, like many other cities, was excluded from this fund.
According to Nowakowski, "we participate in a scheme - the money took from local governments through tax reforms is given back by the central government without clear criteria, at its own discretion, and only the chosen ones benefit from it.
Nowakowski also adds: - The decision is not a punishment imposed on me, the Mayor of Płock. It is the residents who won't get the money for investments and they are the ones who will suffer the biggest consequences. I would like the citizens of Płock to remember how they were treated by this government in a situation where funds go to so many similar projects in other local governments.
The local authorities do not hide their bitterness and think that in this case it was not the substantive criteria that decided, but politics. - This is not a coincidence, because other large cities in Poland did not receive the funds either. Cities that are not a bastion of the ruling camp did not receive any funds - Piotr Grzymowicz, President of Olsztyn, remarked with dismay. - I do not believe that this is a coincidence. It is a disregard for residents who work and pay taxes.
In total, the governmental Local Investment Fund will pay 12 billion zlotys to local government units.
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