PM Tusk facing his biggest political scandal in seven years in government? photo - CPM
Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said he will be holding a news conference on Monday afternoon after Wprost magazine published secretly-recorded tapes of a two-hour conversation in July 2013 between governor of the National Bank of Poland Marek Belka, interior minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz and former transport minister Sławomir Nowak.
The tapes record government ministers asking for support from the National Bank ahead of a general election next year if the economy is faltering and the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) is threatening to win the ballot.
Marek Belka, a former prime minister, is heard to reply on the tapes that the Monetary Policy Council, which sets interests rates in Poland, would “play ball” in return for the resignation of the then finance minister Jacek Rostowski, a long-time critic of the national bank's record on cutting interest rates, and his replacement by a politically independent economist.
Rostowski was eventually sacked as finance minister during a cabinet reshuffle in November, four months after the secretly recorded conversation, and was replaced by Mateusz Szczurek, a politically non-aligned analyst of macro economic policy.
Critics have called for the resignation of Marek Belka for exceeding his powers as National Bank chief.
“This is a conspiracy and a flagrant violation of the [constitutional] separation between the National Bank and politics,” former finance minister and chief of the National Bank of Poland Leszek Balcerowicz has told TOK FM radio.
Wprost magazine has said that there are more clandestine recordings which have come into its possession, including conversations between the head of the National Auditing Chamber Krzysztof Kwiatkowski - Poland's overseer of accounting in the state sector - and Poland's richest man Jan Kulczyk.
Marek Belka published a statement on the National Bank's web site on Sunday apologising for some of the “vulgar language” heard on the tape but claimed that the recordings had been “taken out of context” and that he had never broken the law during the meetings with government ministers.
Prosecutors have said they are waiting for the full disclosure of the secret tapes before deciding whether to take action.
Eugeniusz Kłopotek, an MP for the junior coalition partner PSL told the TVN24 news station on Sunday that “the Prime Minister has only one honourable way out: the resignation of the government”.
Adam Hofman, an MP from Law and Justice (PiS), Poland's largest opposition party, also called for the resignation of Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
“A special commission of inquiry is not the solution in this case,” Hofman said, adding that his party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski would give Law and Justice's position on the scandal engulfing the Civic Platform government, in power since 2007, on Monday.
Adam Szejnfeld, an MP for the senior coalition partner Civic Platform said that the allegations were “shocking” though these were “private conversations” in which people may “express opinions which are not their official positions”.
A spokeswoman for President Bronislaw Komorowski said that the head of state is waiting for clarifications from the government on what is a serious matter concerning the “security of Poland's finances”.
Critics say that it will now be harder for the Monetary Policy Council (MPC) to cut the borrowing rate later this year as it could be seen as acting on behalf of the government to stimulate the economy ahead of elections in the summer or autumn of 2015. (pg)