Narodowy Bank Polski

Statement by Leszek Balcerowicz in connection with the interview given by President Lech Kaczyński to the Reuters Agency on 3 March 2006

Warsaw, 7 March 2006

With regard to the statement pronounced by President Lech Kaczyński for the Reuters Agency on 3 March 2006 - "I wish to address the non-Balcerowicz audience and those are people who have very often anticipated the economic reality much better than the president but who did not push themselves forward. I want to give them the strength to do so"; "Professor Balcerowicz is an evident monetarist. As a matter of fact, the economic categories he uses are the categories connected with his strength, inflation. No one claims that such factors are insignificant for the economy. However, there are a number of other circumstances." - I hereby declare as follows:

During the presidential campaign Lech Kaczyński declared he would not propose my candidacy for the position of the President of the National Bank of Poland. He repeated this declaration as president in the above quoted interview. As the declaration is being repeated I wish to state that I have never requested anyone to undertake any steps in favour of my re-election to the position of the President of the National Bank of Poland.

In the autumn of 1989, when I assumed the position of deputy prime minister responsible for the economy and the position of the minister of finance in the first non-communist government, Poland witnessed raging inflation, the Polish zloty was practically worthless and was neither convertible to other currencies, nor - owing to huge queues and a shortage of goods - could it be exchanged for goods. At present we have real money - a stable and freely convertible currency. However, once achieved goals are not automatically bestowed on the future. They must be protected. This categorically refers to the strength of the Polish currency and requires conduct in accordance with the Constitution.

In this context the recent statement by President Lech Kaczyński relating to his understanding of the role of NBP president surely raises concerns. Leaving aside the issue of the style of conducting politics, the President's position gives rise to a question of a fundamental nature: does the President expect that the President of the National Bank of Poland cares less about the value of the Polish currency? If that is the case, how to reconcile this with article 227 of the Polish Constitution which states that "The National Bank of Poland shall be responsible for the value of the Polish currency"? What rate of inflation does the President promise Poles when he announces the criteria for his decisions related to NBP personnel?

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