WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk plans to replace his finance minister, Jacek Rostowski, as part of a major cabinet reshuffle planned in a few months’ time, three sources with knowledge of Tusk’s thinking told Reuters.
They said the move was aimed at rebuilding public confidence in the ruling Civic Platform party and prepare it for a series of elections - regional polls in 2014 and parliamentary elections in 2015.
“The plan is to replace him (Rostowski) with someone as part of a bigger cabinet reshuffle that will also see ministers like (Joanna) Mucha and (Marcin) Korolec go,” said a senior source in the government.
Mucha is Poland’s sports minister, while Korolec leads the environment ministry.
“This will probably happen in a few months’ time, so in the meantime (Rostowski) can finish the ongoing budget revision for 2013 and deal with the next year’s budget bill,” the source in the government also said.
The finance ministry did not respond to phone calls nor emails seeking comment. Earlier in August, the government’s spokesman, Pawel Gras, said there were no indication that Rostowski’s fate in the government would be in danger.
But the other two sources, who are not members of the government but are in regular contact with senior policymakers, both said independently Tusk was planning to let Rostowski go within several months.
Rostowski has been Poland’s finance minister for six years, making him the country’s longest-standing finance chief since the end of Communism in 1989.
He has helped Poland become the European Union’s sole member to avoid recession following the financial crisis. Markets have praised Rostowski, born in Britain to Polish exile parents, for the fiscal discipline he has enforced.
But the slowdown, which saw the economy flirt with contraction at the turn of the year, proved deeper than Rostowski had anticipated, forcing him in July to raise the deficit and cut public spending.
Tusk’s ruling Civic Platform party has been losing support because of the economic downturn.
No decision has yet been made about who would replace Rostowski. Janusz Lewandowski, currently an EU budget commissioner, has been mulled for the post but two of the sources said he had told them that he was not interested.
Jan Krzystof Bielecki, former primer minister and currently Tusk’s chief economic adviser, and Dariusz Rosati, the chairman of the parliament’s public finance committee, have also been named as possible replacements.
“It will have to be someone with a friendly face, unassociated with the government’s recent policy troubles or controversies. Someone that could help the Civic Platform win elections again,” said one of the two sources not in the government.
Reporting By Karolina Slowikowska Editing by Jeremy Gaunt