(Rewrites to lead on commission comment)
WARSAW/BRUSSELS, March 3 (Reuters) - The European Commission has asked Poland for information about a tax the country imposed on its biggest banks in February to see if it complies with EU competition law, the Commission’s spokesman said on Thursday.
“The Commission is in contact with Polish authorities on the matter,” Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso told Reuters.
The eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party, which won parliamentary elections in October, imposed the tax on banks whose assets exceed 4 billion zlotys ($1 billion) after pledging to raise welfare spending at the expense of corporations.
The tax has added to the pressure on the mostly foreign-owned banks, whose average net profit fell 29 percent last year due to record low interest rates and increased payments for guarantees and creditor support funds.
Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported on Thursday that the Commission had sent a list of queries about the tax to the government and said if Brussels was not satisfied with the response it could launch an investigation.
The newspaper said the Commission was not against the tax in general but had concerns regarding its construction in that it is imposed on big banks while small lenders are exempt.
Rzeczpospolita said Poland’s anti-monopoly office had also received a letter from Brussels.
$1 = 3.9790 zlotys Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; editing by David Clarke