Polish finance minister quits in budget crisis


Poland: Poland's minority government was shaken by the resignation yesterday of the finance minister, Mr Grzegorz Kolodko, just two days before a crucial confidence vote in parliament writes Derek Scally

Mr Kolodko resigned after his draft budget was rejected by the central bank as unconstitutional. The State Bank of Poland said that the budget was full of optimistic growth forecasts and dubious financial manoeuvrings which would have compromised its independence by forcing it to print extra money.

Mr Kolodko's resignation comes just three days after Poles voted overwhelmingly to join the European Union in a referendum.

President Aleksander Kwasniewski said after the referendum that, with just 11 months to accession, he was anxious to see a quick resolution to the domestic political difficulties. The current drama began in March when the prime minister removed one of his two coalition partners from government.

Buoyed by the positive outcome of the EU referendum, Mr Miller has announced a confidence motion, expected on Friday, in an attempt to shore up support for his minority government. If his gamble with the vote pays off, he could stay in office beyond the accession date. If he fails and neither the president nor the fractious parliament manages to put together an alternative administration, elections must be held.

Mr Miller's government took office just 20 months ago, but has failed to cut the 19 per cent unemployment rate and has been rocked by scandals, making it the most unpopular administration in Poland's post-communist history.