Ex-businessman to head Bonn economy ministry

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The Independent Online
BONN (Reuter) - Gunter Rexrodt, a 51-year-old businessman turned politician, appeared certain yesterday to become Germany's new economics minister after his party, the Free Democrats (FDP) nominated him for the job.

Mr Rexrodt, a member of the board of eastern Germany's Treuhand privatisation agency, will replace Jurgen Mollemann, who resigned last Sunday over an influence-peddling scandal. Chancellor Helmut Kohl, whose Christian Democrats (CDU) are the senior partners in the 10-year-old coalition, was expected to approve the appointment early next week.

Mr Rexrodt said he would not discuss policy until he was confirmed in office. But he added that he believed the period ahead would be difficult: 'A time in which we must win the confidence of business, avert an economic setback in the whole of Germany and put great emphasis on developments in eastern Germany'.

The CDU's general secretary, Peter Hintze, said it was good that Mr Rexrodt had industrial experience and was familiar with the economic problems of former East Germany. 'I think this is a very interesting proposal. I can imagine him doing good work in this office.' Mr Rexrodt, who was narrowly defeated for the job by Mr Mollemann two years ago, was nominated by a joint meeting of the FDP's national executive and MPs.

Asked what the CDU expected from Mr Rexrodt, Mr Hintze said: 'The most important task we see at the moment is to press ahead with the further reconstruction of east Germany and to stabilise the west German economy.'

Chancellor Kohl will announce a long-planned cabinet reshuffle next week, sources in the Chancellery said yesterday.

They said the reshuffle, which will take place at the mid-point of the coalition's four-year term, will probably be limited to second- level ministries.

(Photograph omitted)