Poland’s top banker filmed debating policy during vacation

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s central bank chief drew criticism Monday after he was caught on a hidden camera discussing inflation and fiscal policy with an activist who approached him during a walk.

Some critics said the head of the National Bank of Poland, Adam Glapinski, might have broken the law when he told the woman there may be just one more quarter-point increase in interest rates. The bank has carried out a series of hikes that has brought the benchmark rate from 0.5% in October to 6% now.

Poland’s annual inflation in June was 15.5%, the highest in 25 years. Prices have skyrocketed on fuels, energy and food. Many Poles say they cannot afford to pay rising loan installments.

An activist from the Agrounia farmers union expressed the concerns emotionally to Glapinski when she spotted him at the Baltic Sea resort of Sopot last week, recording the conversation.

In the video, posted by Agrounia over the weekend, Glapinski calmly advised her to take advantage of a new law that allows people to delay some monthly payments on bank loans as interest rates climb. He assured her that rates may be slightly increased just one more time and that next year inflation will be in single digits. They shake hands at the end.

Glapinski’s wife, Katarzyna, is heard wishing the woman a win in Totolotek, once Poland’s popular lottery that is still often mentioned in such context.

Economist Rafał Mundry said on Twitter that Glapinski behaved in a “shocking and irresponsible way” by revealing plans about the bank’s future fiscal policy.

Left-wing opposition lawmaker Tomasz Trela said Glapinski should focus on having a rest and refrain from making statements, describing them as “harmful and compromising.”

Glapinski is also head of the central bank’s Monetary Policy Council that sets the interest rates. He has been blamed for Poland’s high inflation and accused of reacting too late. His recent appointment to a second six-year term has drawn vehement protests from the opposition.

Glapinski, 72, is a long-time close associate of Poland’s most powerful politician, the ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Other critics targeted the whole right-wing government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the advice its members have been giving Poles amid rising prices and concerns about prospective shortages of heating this winter.

Among advice that has provoked ridicule is Morawiecki telling Poles to have their houses insulated before winter and giving permission to collect brushwood, while President Andrzej Duda has encouraged people to remain “optimistic” and to persevere and the education minister suggested people eat less and visit friends often for dinner.

Glapinski’s wife’s wishes for a lotto win were added to the list.

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This story has been corrected to say that the term of the national bank head is six years, not five.

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