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Poland moves to summon central bank chief to state tribunal, PAP says

file photo: rally in support of poland's membership in the european union, in warsaw
FILE PHOTO: Donald Tusk

Lawmakers from Poland’s ruling coalition will submit a preliminary motion to put central bank chief Adam Glapinski before a state tribunal by the end of March, state news agency PAP reported a lawmaker as saying, in what would be an unprecedented move for the European Union state.

The new pro-EU government led by Donald Tusk has vowed to ensure those it accuses of wrongdoing during the rule of the previous nationalist government will be brought to account and has launched sweeping changes in state media and the judicial system.

However, launching a process that may result in the removal of the central bank governor is a potentially riskier move. The head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, told Glapinski in a letter that he could refer any such move to the EU’s top court as it may affect the bank’s independence.

“We are working on a preliminary motion to hold the President of the NBP accountable before the State Tribunal and we are determined to carry out this process,” Janusz Cichon, chairman of the parliament’s Public Finance Committee, told PAP.

“We plan to submit a substantively prepared motion to parliament by the end of March,” said Cichon, who is a member of Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO), the largest grouping in the ruling coalition.

Speaking to Reuters, Cichon said he was confident his Civic Platform party would collect the 115 lawmaker signatures needed to put forward the preliminary motion, once its wording was finalised. He declined to detail the exact charges to be levied against Glapinski.

The zloty currency EURPLN= was little moved by the news and was 0.24% weaker on the day at 1618 GMT.

ACCUSATIONS

Glapinski, whose ties to the leader of the former ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) go back decades, has been accused by the current government of not being sufficiently independent.

He has also faced accusations of misleading the finance ministry over the central bank’s results and of potentially breaking constitutional rules that prevent the central bank from financing government borrowing when it launched a quantitative easing programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Bank of Poland (NBP) could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I do not comment on political decisions in this matter,” said Joanna Tyrowicz, a member of the rate-setting Monetary Policy Council (MPC) who has been critical of Glapinski. “Stability and predictability are expected from the central bank, but the governor does not provide this.”

Fellow rate-setter Przemyslaw Litwiniuk, who has also spoken critically about Glapinski, said he did not think the decision posed any threats to the bank’s functioning. “In a democratic country, this is not an extraordinary situation and it does not in any way affect the conditions for implementing the NBP’s mission,” he said.

Glapinski himself has provided staunch defences of his record, pointing to a sharp fall in inflation over recent months and saying that quantitative easing was essential to rescuing the largest economy in the European Union’s eastern wing during the pandemic.

The NBP issued a statement earlier on Wednesday rejecting claims it misled the government over its results and attributing the change to the rapid strengthening of the zloty following a general election last year.

It had said in August that it would contribute about 6 billion zlotys to the state budget from its profits, but this will now not be possible as it will report a loss.

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled in January that the government would need a three-fifths majority in parliament to summon Glapinski to a state tribunal, complicating its task. Tusk has said there could be other ways of removing him and that the Tribunal’s ruling was not binding.

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