Polish capital on alert over floods

Poland has earmarked 2 billion zlotys ($589.3 million) from its budget reserves to help flood victims.

Polish capital on alert over floods

Poland has earmarked 2 billion zlotys ($589.3 million) from its budget reserves to help flood victims, after heavy rains caused severe floods for more than a week, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday.

Since the middle of May, flood waters have killed 15 people and forced tens of thousands from their homes in southern and central Poland.

Flood waters moved north towards the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, and have caused an estimated 2 billion euros' worth of damage throughout the country, Tusk said last week.

"We have to spend the assistance funds in a way that will not threaten the stability of public finances," Tusk told a news conference. "That means we have to reallocate existing funds within the budget and not increase debt levels."

With a presidential election looming next month, Tusk is under growing pressure from opposition parties to amend this year's budget to boost spending on flood victims, but he insisted this was not necessary.

He said the 2 billion zlotys would come from funds originally set aside to co-finance infrastructure projects in cooperation with the European Union.

The government has already announced aid worth 6,000 zlotys ($1,768) to each household hit by the floods to help secure basic supplies of food and clothing. The EU and Russia are providing humanitarian aid.

Tusk's centrist government is struggling to control a budget deficit that has more than doubled to about 7 percent of national output after the global financial crisis hammered tax revenues and pushed up public spending.

This week, Tusk and the presidential candidate of his ruling Civic Platform party, Bronislaw Komorowski, have been criss-crossing Poland to show solidarity with the flood victims.

Opposition leaders have also been visiting stricken regions.

Many areas of southern Poland remain under water as people try to reach almost completely submerged homes in rowing boats.

In several places across the country rivers have burst their banks or punched holes in embankments, flooding into fields and towns.

Warsaw remained on alert on Tuesday and many schools and kindergartens were closed as a precaution.

Reuters

Last Mod: 25 Mayıs 2010, 15:45
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