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Jul 19, 1:53 PM EDT

Poland backs lower retirement age: 60 for women, 65 for men

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- The Polish government is backing a plan to lower the retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men, from the current level of 67 for all.

Lowering the retirement age was among key promises that the Law and Justice party and the party's candidate for president, Andrzej Duda, made during their successful campaigns last year.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo's Cabinet on Tuesday backed a retirement proposal drafted by Duda. It still needs approval by the Parliament, but that seems almost certain, given the ruling party's control of both Parliament chambers.

Government spokesman Rafal Bochenek said the new law could take effect Oct.1, 2017 and would be financed from a more efficient collection of the VAT tax.

Finance Minister Pawel Szalamacha has estimated that letting people retire earlier will cost the state budget 8 billion zlotys (1.8 billion euros, nearly $2 billion) a year.

He refused to comment Monday on a report in Gazeta Wyborcza daily that said he and two other ministers in charge of the economy found the proposal too costly and wanted the early retirement available only after a woman has worked for at least 35 years and a man for at least 40 years. The government did not make such a condition.

The proposal reverses the previous government's decision to increase the retirement age to 67 for all, arguing that was needed to adapt to an aging society.

The government recently introduced another costly social program paying families 500 zlotys (114 euros) a month for every second and every next child, in a move intended to prod Poles into having more children.

The ruling party also proposed on Tuesday that first ladies, who are currently not paid, should receive monthly remuneration for their role. It was not clear when that proposal would be considered by lawmakers.

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