WARSAW All benefits that Poland may be able to get from a euro zone entry, including boosting its political stature in Europe, hinge on the country being economically strong, Finance Minister Mateusz Szczurek was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The minister's comments echoed those of the prime minister, who said last month that Poland will not rush to join the euro zone just because of the crisis in Ukraine.
Szczurek told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper that Poland needs to "significantly" cut its public debt before adopting the common currency to get the fiscal space that it would need to adjust the level of domestic economic activity, once it no longer has its own monetary policy.
The minister also said that joining the euro zone today is tied to different obligations than in 2004, when Poland said it would adopt the euro.
"This concerns additional financial obligations, which we would have to meet," Szczurek said. "A banking union is being created. All this will impact Poland's profit and cost analysis regarding euro zone entry."
Poland, a member of the European Union since 2004, is obliged to join the euro zone at some point. But it has not set any dates and says it needs to see the final shape of new euro zone institutions before its makes more steps towards adopting the currency.
Poland also has to change its constitution before adopting the euro. The existing one states that the Polish zloty is the country's currency. Such a change would require a two-third majority in parliament, which may not be available -- most of the population is against adopting the euro.
Szczurek added that Poland plans to exit the European Union's excessive deficit procedure in 2016 and plans to return to lower value added tax rates in 2017. Szczurek said that there was a possibility that the rates could be lowered one year earlier.
Szczurek also called on foreign companies to make sure they are fairly paying all of the due taxes in Poland. If they fail to do so, Poland may decide to tighten tax regulations, Szczurek said.
"Because not only the opposition will become interested in their (foreign companies) untaxed income, but also the ruling (coalition)," Szczurek said, referring to proposals from the opposition to slap new taxes on large corporations.
(Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Kim Coghill)