Archive for the ‘Nowak’ Category

Transport Minister Nowak resigns

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bienkowska to head new super-ministry

Senat RP

Elzbieta Bienkowska. Photo Adam Nurkiewicz, Senat Rzespospolitej Polskiej, via Wikipedia.

Slawomir Nowak, the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Affairs has resigned. Responsibility for running the transport ministry will pass to Elzbieta Bienkowska, currently head of the Ministry of Regional Development. Bienkowska will have the title of ‘deputy prime minister’ and head a new combined ministry of Infrastructure and Development, becoming the most important Polish politician after Poland’s Prime Minister, Donald Tusk.

The changes are part of a cabinet shake up announced by Tusk at a time when opinion polls shows public support waning for the ruling party, Platforma Obywatelska. Nowak’s fate was sealed when Warsaw prosecutors investigating the afera zegarkowa (the retiring Minister had a penchant for very expensive watches) made a formal request for Nowak’s parliamentary immunity to be revoked. Other changes announced by the Prime Minister included the replacement of Jacek Rostowski as Finance Minister by Mateusz Szczurek.

Mateusz Szczurek is regarded by people close to the Ministry of Finance as a relatively inexperienced, but safe, place-holder until the next parliamentary elections; not so Bienkowska who is thought to be the most competent minister in Tusk’s government.

Elzbieta Bienkowska was born on 4 February 1964 in Katowice. She obtained an MA degree in Oriental Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She also studied at the National School of Public Administration and was awarded an MBA by the Warsaw School of Economics. Throughout her career she was involved in the implementation of EU-funded projects. In 1999-2007, she was director of the Department of Regional Development in the Office of the Chief Executive of the Province of Silesia. Earlier she had worked on regional development strategy in the office of the Governor of Silesia in Katowice.

With the administration of EU-funded projects seen as a major weakness in the current arrangements for the renovation of Poland’s railways, it is hoped that Bienkowska will ensure that the necessary reforms are implemented at the appropriate levels in her new ministry and PKP.

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EU suspends road payments

Monday, 4 February 2013

elzbieta_bienkowska

Under Pressure, Elzbieta Bienkowska, Minister of Regional Development. From a photo by Piotr Drabik.

(Click on image to see original on pl.wikipedia and for licensing.)

The European Commission has blocked the repayment of funds due to Poland for EU-assisted road building projects under the auspices of the Infrastructure and Environment programme and Eastern Poland development program.

The reason for the stoppage is a court case that has been running for several months into the behaviour of ten road construction company bosses and a senior director of Poland’s Trunk Roads Directorate, the GDDKiA. The accused face charges that they formed a cartel which affected the tenders for sections of the S8 expressway and a section of the A$ motorway.

European Commission officials have demanded that Poland withdraws its refund applications for the tenders which are the subject of the court proceedings, puts in place an urgent investigation into its control procedures, and undertakes urgent checks to see whether any other tenders could have been effected to similar illegal price-fixing agreements.

Some 3.5 billion PLN in EU refunds are stopped, that being the sum of monies due to Poland that are ‘in the pipeline’. If the stoppage effects projects for which Poland has not yet submitted the refund applications the sum could be much higher.

On Friday 1 February, Infrastructure Minister, Slawomir Nowak, and Regional Development Minister, Elzbieta Bienkowska, came back from consultations with EU officials in Brussels and declared that they expect the EU stoppage to be lifted soon. Others are less optimistic – other EU investigations are under way could effect even more refunds. If matters are not resolved by May the GDDKiA could become insolvent.

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Nowak courts Chinese rail investors

Monday, 30 July 2012

China Railways CRH5 at Qinhuangdao. Photo 颐园新居.

(Click image to see original on Wikipedia and for licensing.)

Poland’s Transport Minister, Slawomir Nowak, has concluded a 5 day official visit to China. The visit took place at the invitation of China’s Transport Minister, Li Shenglin. The Polish delegation included Poland’s rail minister, Andrzej Massel, and the head of Poland’s Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ), Sławomir Majman. Other members of his delegation included representatives of PKP PLK, PKP Cargo, LHS, DCT, and the ports of Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin-Swinoujscie.

In China key meetings took place with the Deputy Minister for Trade, Zhong Shanan, and the Deputy Minister of Transport, Weng Mengyong, Other important meeting took place with representatives of some of China’s largest transport companies : China Shipping Container Lines, Cosco Shipping Line & Cosco Freight Forwarding Company, Shanghai Electric and the GeoHarbour Group.

Is it significant that meetings appear to have only taken place at deputy minister level? The official website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Transport Ministry – always keen to promote China to the rest of the world – are strangely silent on Nowak’s visit.

The purpose of the visit was to promote Poland as an attractive country for investment and a good place to do business in. Given the rapid transformation of China’s railways over the last two decade it is remarkable that no meetings appear to have been held with Chinese locomotive and rolling stock manufacturers, or with Chinese railway construction companies.

It is too early yet to judge whether the visit will succeed in its aims and improve relations between the two countries; a relationship which is still soured by mutual recriminations over the collapse of the Covec contract for building part of the A2 motorway.

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