Expert on State Treasury companies. The new government follows in the footsteps of PiS

Expert on State Treasury companies.  The new government follows in the footsteps of PiS

Transparent and fair rules for electing members of the management boards of State Treasury companies are an important step towards their depoliticization, but insufficient – believes FOR analyst Bartłomiej Jabrzyk. Privatization is the right step.

Bartłomiej Jabrzyk, an analyst at the Civic Development Forum (FOR), reminds that “depoliticization of State Treasury companies” was one of the campaign promises of the Civic Coalition and Third Way. This was reflected in the coalition agreement signed on November 10, 2023. – One of the coalition's priorities will be to depoliticize State Treasury companies by introducing clear recruitment criteria for management positions – written in the contract.

“Weeding out politics from money from State Treasury companies” announced the leader of Poland 2050, Szymon Hołownia. – We have not come to sugarcoat the old policy. We came to change it – wrote on the X platform (formerly Twitter) the Speaker of the Sejm.

Is privatization of State Treasury companies necessary?

The expert points out that the only effect of this announcement was the submission by the MPs of Poland 2050 of a draft bill amending certain acts in order to improve corporate governance in companies with State Treasury participation. – Transparent and fair rules for electing members of the management boards of state-controlled companies are an important step towards depoliticizing these companies, but it is an insufficient step. The only real change that allows for true and complete depoliticization of State Treasury companies is their privatization – writes Jabrzyk.

According to the analyst, controversies related to filling positions based on party lines will not cease as long as politicians have any influence on these positions. The same as the Ministry of State Assets and other ministries and agencies exercising powers derived from shares held by the state. – Unfortunately, the latest statements by representatives of the ministry give grounds to believe that true and lasting depoliticization will not take place – writes an expert.

Jabrzyk recalls the statement of the deputy head of the Ministry of State Assets, Marcin Kulasek, who, when asked about privatization plans, said that “there are no such plans at all. We believe that the state treasury should maintain the companies it has.”

This message – as Jabrzyk writes – is disturbingly similar to the claims of Marzena Małek, Minister of State Assets in the so-called Mateusz Morawiecki's two-week government: “The sale of Polish national assets, also known as the privatization of State Treasury companies, is not a mistake, it is a crime!”

A new government like PiS?

– The government of the KO-TD-NL coalition does not plan to return to the path of privatization followed by all governments – apart from the Law and Justice government – after 1989. It was the transformation and its most important element – privatization – that enabled unprecedented economic development and catching up with the West. After 2015, the PiS government, instead of reducing the share of state ownership, nationalized private companies, calling it “re-Polonization”. High-profile examples are: Pekao, Polskie Koleje Linowe, Polska Press and power plants. He also created and developed state holdings resembling the disgraced Polish People's Republic unions, such as Polski Holding Hotelowy, Polska Grupa Lotnicza and Krajowa Grupa Spożywcza – reminds the FOR analyst.

According to the expert, discussions about depoliticizing the economy without privatization remain sterile. – Open competitions for positions in the bodies of state-controlled companies or even the introduced act regulating the principles of filling positions cannot solve the core problem, which is the ownership structure of the Polish economy – sums up Jabrzyk.

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