Monday, November 07, 2005

If you go down to Tesco’s today… won’t be seeing the new Polish Finance Minister by the cheese counter.

It’s official: Teresa Lubinska, the recently appointed FM in the new Polish minority government, does not shop at Tesco’s, or any other foreign owned supermarket. She thinks that these sorts of retail outlets are ‘not productive investments’ and Poland should be opening up more of its own stores.

The revelations came in an interview the minister did with the Financial Times. “Hypermarkets like Tesco are no investment. I mean they are not vital for economic growth,” she said.

She added that when she was working for the local authority in Szczecin, the port city in the northwest, she tried to ‘chase out’ these stores, and supported smaller, Polish shops.

The remarks caused some concern among foreign investors, unsurprisingly. Was this the right signal to send out to the markets at the start of a term in government? Lubinska was thought to be a technocratic financial moderate, with links to the free market Civic Platform, the largest party in the opposition.

Rafal Antczak, of the Center For Socio-Economic Analyses, and the man behind the economic policy of Civic Platform, told Polskie Radio that he was surprised by the statement.

“It’s hard to know why the new FM, who is trying to build a reputation with the market, where she is not well known, should do so by making such a controversial statement.’

But it’s not that hard to figure out. Chris Bobinski – one time Polish correspondent for the Financial Times – reminds us of political realities:

“Her statement won’t do her any good abroad, but at home – where the government faces a vote of confidence in the parliament on Thursday – it won’t do her any harm at all.'

To get through that vote, Law and Justice needs the support of several right wing and populist parties, such as the far-right League of Polish Families, the Peasant’s Party and the radical farmers union, Samoobrona. All those parties have mentioned before how unfair foreign supermarket chains are, as they push the smaller Polish units out of the market by cutting prices and making food cheaper, and offering better service and better produce and a wider choice.

No statement from Tesco’s, however, which is the UK’s biggest investor in Poland.

Meanwhile, all ministers are banned from making statements to the press in advance of the confidence vote. Which gives them more free time to cruise the isles at their local, Polish owned supermarket.


Gustav said...

Hanging out all that time with PiS, she's catching their disease

dday said...

I wish we had such a quaint "scandal" in our country.

By the way, thanks for participating at my site the other day. Did you see today's bombshell by US Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) that he was told about the CIA-run "black sites" in a Republican Senate conference, and that he believes one of his colleagues referred it to the media?