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Poland economic policy to protect growth:Tusk

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk leaves after attending the funeral service of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher at St Paul
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk leaves after attending the funeral service of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher at St Paul

CHORZOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the government will run an economy balanced between fiscal discipline and economic expansion, signaling it will not sacrifice growth to spending cuts.

The former communist country has posted nearly two decades of uninterrupted growth but its economy began to slow sharply last year and growth fell to near zero in the first quarter of 2013.

Tusk said the government would be flexible in its approach to economic growth.

"We will save but in a way that economic growth in Poland will be stronger than in the last months," Tusk said at his Civic Platform party congress in southern Poland.

Poland announced in April it would not succeed in cutting its budget deficit this year below a target of 3 percent of gross domestic product required by the European Union, leaving the country in the bloc's excessive deficit procedure for another two years.

Poland expects its deficit to be 3.5 percent this year and come closer to 3.0 percent in 2014.

The economic slowdown has hit support for Tusk's government and his Civic Platform (OP) party lags its main rival, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), in opinion polls for the first time in years.

The PO congress is expected to set a date for party leadership elections later this year.

Tusk will be challenged by former justice minister Jaroslaw Gowin but many observers say the prime minister is unlikely to be defeated.

(Reporting by Pawel Sobczak, Writing by Dagmara Leszkowicz; Editing by David Cowell)

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