January 9, 2019 / 1:40 PM / in 9 days

Polish finance minister says 'turbulence' in central bank pay row may discourage investors

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Finance Minister Teresa Czerwinska said on Wednesday that “turbulence” around the central bank could discourage foreign investors, in her first public comment on a row over bank salaries that could harm the ruling party in an election year.

FILE PHOTO: Teresa Czerwinska Poland's new Finance Minister attends a government swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Opposition politicians called on central bank governor Adam Glapinski this week to resign after newspaper reports that one of his aides was paid an unusually high salary. The bank has denied a report that the aide earned nearly four times more than Poland’s president.

As the central bank announced its decision on Wednesday to keep interest rates unchanged, in line with expectations, Glapinski also faced a call from the ruling party spokeswoman to provide clarity about the salaries it pays its employees.

“I am sure that everything will become clear,” Finance Minister Teresa Czerwinska told reporters. “Certainly, turbulence around the central bank is not supportive to how foreign investors assess us.”

Glapinski, who is close to the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), was expected to be quizzed about the issue at a news conference due at 1500 GMT.

PiS spokeswoman Beata Mazurek told reporters new legislation may be necessary to allow for central bank salary details to be made public.

“We would like a precise explanation of salary levels of the central bank,” she said.

On Wednesday the central bank left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1.5 percent. It also kept its lombard rate flat at 2.50 percent, the deposit rate at 0.50 percent and the rediscount rate at 1.75 percent.

The pay issue has prompted jitters in Polish financial markets in recent days, with the zloty losing some ground.

PiS party officials are closely monitoring developments. Poland holds a parliamentary ballot late this year. PiS, which is ahead in opinion polls, has long pledged more economic fairness and frugality among politicians.

Reporting by Anna Koper, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Gareth Jones

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