Poland's new rulers pursue reform plan

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The Independent Online
WARSAW - The government of Hanna Suchocka, Poland's new Prime Minister, is expected to bring renewed impetus to tough economic reforms and end Poland's quarantine among foreign investors who shied away because of fears of instability.

The Finance Ministry and other key economic posts are held by politicians who favour pressing ahead with Poland's hardline austerity reforms, aimed at creating a market economy.

This gives Poland a chance to recover the momentum which characterised its reforms until the end of last year. 'I think the business community wants to do more business here,' said Joan Edwards, who heads the US Trade Development Center in Warsaw. 'From a business point of view it looks much better.'

Ms Suchocka's 22-member cabinet has the backing of seven parties descended from the Solidarity union. These parties can amass around 200 votes in the fragmented 460-member Sejm (lower house). That is short of an overall majority, but Ms Suchocka can probably count on the support of minor parties.

Jerzy Osiatynski, the economics professor who takes over the Finance Ministry, has said he will ensure that government sending stays in line with budget revenues. 'We will work towards putting a brake on continuing inflationary pressures,' Mr Osiatynski said, adding that he would work within the 5-per-cent budget deficit agreed with the International Monetary Fund.

'We will also set out clearer rules of the game and ensure equal treatment for companies regardless of whether they are domestic or foreign investors,' said Mr Osiatyski. A new minister for enterprise would deal directly with the needs of foreign investors, he added.

Ms Suchocka's cabinet includes Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, the former management consultant who was prime minister from January to November 1991. Mr Bielecki has been appointed a minister to improve Poland's contacts with Brussels.

Janusz Lewandowski, the privatisation minister who is another veteran of Mr Bielecki's government, has been reappointed and is likely to press ahead with the ambitious mass privatisation programme which was launched last June but did not find favour with the outgoing government.

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