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Poland's parliament confirms president's choice for central bank chief

Poland's parliament confirms president's choice for central bank chief

Poland's parliament confirmed Slawomir Skrzypek as the new head of the central bank on Wednesday, amid opposition allegations of cronyism.
Lawmakers voted 239-202 in the 460-seat parliament to make Skrzypek, 43, the new president of the National Bank of Poland. There was one abstention.
Skrzypek is a U.S.-trained economist with a background in public administration and auditing. Most recently he served as acting president of a major state-dominated bank, PKO BP.
"I feel the great responsibility that awaits me as head of the central bank," Skrzypek said after the vote.
He had no background in monetary policy or banking before his appointment as PKO BP deputy president in December 2005. He was promoted to acting president in September 2006.
But Skrzypek is a trusted and longtime colleague of President Lech Kaczynski, serving under him in parliament in the mid-1990s and at Warsaw city hall from 2002-2005 when Kaczynski was mayor. Kaczynski nominated him for the central bank post on Jan. 3.
Skrzypek shrugged off questions of his tight ties with Kaczynski, vowing to maintain the bank's independence.
"I want to convince everyone through my actions that I know what the independence of the central bank is," he said.
He called caring "for the strength of the Polish zloty and economic growth" his priorities.
Announcing the nomination, Kaczynski's office said Skrzypek was an anti-communist activist who was interned and sentenced under martial law, introduced in 1981. It gave no details of the court sentence.
Skrzypek's limited experience and ties to the government have triggered complaints he may be more easily influenced by politicians, limiting the National Bank of Poland's independence.
"The limits of incompetence have been exceeded," said Stefan Niesiolowski, a senator with the main opposition Civic Platform, which voted against Skrzypek's nomination. "We see this as a case of cronyism."
Two other opposition parties _ the Democratic Left Alliance and the Polish Peasants' Party _ also opposed Skrzypek's candidacy.
Skrzypek succeeds Leszek Balcerowicz, whose six-year term expired Wednesday. Balcerowicz appealed Tuesday to his successor to continue his free market policies, which have guided Poland's inflation rate to about 1.4 percent, among the lowest in the European Union.
In a recent statement, Skrzypek vowed to "protect the value of Poland's money" and respect transparency if he becomes chief banker.
"I am for a stable and credible money policy. I am an opponent of abrupt changes," he said.
Balcerowicz advocated a quick adoption of the euro, a stance that has put him at odds with the current leadership. Skrzypek said Wednesday he believes the euro should be adopted at a time most convenient for Poland.