Polish Premier Denies Plans to Dismiss Finance Minister

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk denied a report that he was planning to dismiss Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski as the government finishes work on a pension overhaul.

Reuters reported yesterday that Tusk allies had approached at least three people as potential replacements after Rostowski lost the premier’s confidence. It cited an unnamed lawmaker from the ruling Civic Platform and people close to the government in its report.

“What’s gotten into your heads?” Tusk told reporters in parliament when asked about reports that he is looking for Rostowski’s replacement. “It’s untrue.” He later called the reports “unprofessional” and “indecent.”

Rostowski spearheaded plans to overhaul Poland’s privately-managed pension funds, sparking criticism from some of the ruling party’s senior politicians including former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. Speculation that the finance minister’s job was in jeopardy began in August after Rostowski said this year’s budget deficit will be wider than planned. Tusk denied he had plans to dismiss him at least twice.

The pension plan foresees taking over 51.5 percent of fund assets, mostly bonds that will be canceled to reduce public debt. Tusk, who announced the measure last month, today said on his Twitter Inc. account that the government will finish working on the bill that details the overhaul this week and plans a “new opening in November.”

Worsening Support

The planned changes coupled with the worst economic slowdown in a decade have hurt the ruling Civic Platform support. The opinion polls show the party is trailing the opposition Law and Justice for the first time in six years. Tusk became the first post-communist Polish prime minister in 2010 to win re-election.

The planned “fresh start” will include changes in the government, he said at the news conference in parliament today.

“The European crisis, which triggered a slowdown, though not a recession in Poland, is ending, and that requires a fresh start, policy changes and corrections,” he told reporters. “Therefore, in the middle of this term I’ll be proposing new steps and also cabinet changes”

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