* Polish economy, rare EU bright spot, is slowing sharply
* Tusk says to use state assets to leverage investment
* Pledges to keep debt, deficit at safe levels
(Releads, adds reaction) By Dagmara Leszkowicz and Pawel Sobczak
WARSAW, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced a big programme of investment on Friday aimed at reviving a spluttering economy and shoring up support from voters worried that two decades of uninterrupted growth is coming to an end.
Tusk said he would find billions of euros for investment in energy and other infra-structure projects, while at the same time keeping a tight rein on government borrowing in Poland, eastern Europe's largest economy.
Poland has been a rare bright spot in Europe over the past few years, managing to sustain robust growth even while its neighbours slumped. But growth will slow next year to just over 2 percent, half the figure for last year.
"There is no other way for Poland than sustaining growth through investments," Tusk told parliament. "Poland has a real chance to defend economic growth."
"We will fight to ensure debt and deficit stay at safe levels," he said in his first big, set-piece speech setting out the government's response to the slowdown.
Investment in road-building and other infra-structure projects has driven Polish growth up to now, yet the European cash that paid for it will dip over the next two years. Borrowing to fill the gap would drive up debt and dent Poland's reputation for fiscal prudence.
The solution outlined by Tusk is to channel state-owned assets, including company shares and privatisation revenue from 2014, into a special fund which will use these assets to underwrite private investment.
"According to calculations, which ministers Rostowski and Budzanowski will present in detail tomorrow, we should create leverage for investments and credits worth around 40 billion zlotys to 2015 and around 90 mld if we count over six years," Tusk said.
Reuters reported last week that the government was considering creation of a fund of this kind - broadly modelled on schemes already operating in Brazil and South Korea.
Under the scheme drafted in Poland, which will be run by state-controlled bank BGK, the assets underwriting investment would be in a non-state vehicle and so would not be classified as debt, allowing the government to meet its targets for cutting borrowing.
"The Prime Minister managed to solve a few problems. He announced a major investment programme that will underpin the economy," said Maciej Reluga, chief economist at Bank Zachodni WBK.
"At the same time, he offered a mechanism that will ensure debt and deficit levels aren't affected. Rating agencies and markets should be happy."
Poland is the only country in the EU that did not slip into recession since the start of the global financial crisis four years ago.
But the global downturn is now making itself felt. Unemployment is ticking up. Offices and apartments built on a wave of confidence in Poland's "economic miracle" are now standing empty.
The slowdown has hurt Tusk's popularity, with polls showing his party had been overtaken by the opposition Law and Justice Party. Fading public support could make it harder for him to hold together his governing coalition between now and the next election in three years.
In a measure likely to please voters, Tusk announced that maternity leave would be extended and more help provided to families with children. That was met with a round of applause from lawmakers listening to the speech.
"It'a good anti-crisis and pro-family instrument," said Malgorzata Krzysztoszek, economist with the Lewiatan business lobby. "The prime minister told Poles: 'Hey, the labour market is tough but you can wait it out. Your job will be protected, go have a baby'."
($1 = 3.1604 Polish zlotys)
(Additional reporting by Marcin Goettig, Karolina Slowikowska, Adrian Krajewski; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Patrick Graham)
Keywords: POLAND TUSK/