Bank head nominated as Polish economy minister
WARSAW: The chief executive of the Spanish-owned bank BZ WBK was nominated yesterday to be economy minister in Poland’s new Law and Justice (PiS) party government, a post expected to be given extra powers at the expense of the finance ministry. PiS won a resounding election victory in October, becoming the first party to win an outright majority in Poland since the fall of communism.
Its economic plans, including new bank taxes, a massive increase in social spending and a monetary stimulus plan, have stirred investors’ concerns in recent months, driving the Polish zloty to a nine-month low against the euro and bank stocks to their lowest level in 2-1/2 years.
Yesterday, Polish stocks rose about 0.4 percent following the announcement that the economy ministry would be run by 47-year-old Mateusz Morawiecki, head of BZ WBK, Poland’s third-largest bank, owned by Santander.
Pawel Szalamacha, 46, a privatisation lawyer, was nominated to head the finance ministry, which analysts expect to be stripped of some of its economic policy prerogatives, and to focus on tax collection and government finances.
Prime Minister-designate Beata Szydlo named her candidates at a joint press conference with the party’s founder and leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski after a sitting of the PiS political cabinet.
“Morawiecki has extensive knowledge, he is a professional in his area, he will be a strong pillar of the government,” said Grzegorz Maliszewski, chief economist at the Warsaw-based Bank Millennium.
BZ WBK’s market value has risen by about 80 percent since Morawiecki became chief executive in mid-2007. Witold Waszczykowski, 58, a former ambassador to Iran and NATO, was nominated as foreign minister, and lawmaker Antoni Macierewicz as defence minister. —Reuters