"Market-friendly" minister amongst potential casualties of Polish reshuffle plans

By bne IntelliNews September 23, 2016

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government will undergo personal and “systemic” changes in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told reporters on September 23. The PM remarked on the performance of several ministers, and stated that the time for strategies is “over” and now “action” is demanded.

The reshuffle has been subject of speculation for some time, with Szydlo's own future frequently questioned. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski - widely viewed as the real leader of the government - has long been seen likely to take over after he put Szydlo up as a front for the election last October due to worries over his controversial image. However, it appears she is safe for the meantime.

Szydlo did not offer any concrete details about the reshuffle, apart from saying that Labour Minister Elzbieta Rafalska and the head of PM’s chancellery Henryk Kowalczyk - also an interim treasury minister after dismissal of Dawid Jackiewicz the previous week - are safe. However, deputy PM Mateusz Morawiecki - the main market-friendly appointment as head of the economy ministry - could be becoming vulnerable.

“The time for strategies and programmes is over, now is the time for action,” Szydlo told state-owned Polish Radio. Morawiecki who has recently presented a comprehensive National Development Plan of economic and societal changes.

There is more definite speculation that Finance Minister Pawel Szalamacha will be leaving his post next week. He chalked up a black mark earlier this year when he criticised the new government’s flagship social programme to pay child benefit to all; a scheme that is stretching state coffers. Other speculation - albeit much less intense - focuses on Agriculture Minister Krzysztof Jurgiel and Health Minister Krzysztof Radziwill.

Kaczynski was "forced" to take over the premiership in similar circumstances less than a year into the last PiS government which took office in 2005. Some media ran headlines recently suggesting Kaczynski has now lost trust in Szydlo. However, PiS officials spoke in unison on September 23 in noting that the PM will be making the changes, not experiencing them herself.

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