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Sawicki to return as agriculture minister

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 14.03.2014 10:43
Former minister of agriculture Marek Sawicki has accepted a proposal to return to the post after his successor Stanislaw Kalemba resigned on Thursday.

MP Marek Sawicki (C) in parliament on Friday. Photo: PAP/Bartlomiej Zborowski

Sawicki, a member of junior coalition partner the Polish Peasants Party (PSL), said on Friday that party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski had asked him to take up the post.

Stanislaw Kalemba announced his resignation yesterday claiming the government is not doing enough to compensate farmers hit by Russia and China’s ban on pork products from Poland after two cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) were reported in the country last month.

PSL, which has held the ministry throughout both of the coalition government's two terms since 2007, has approved Sawicki's candidature via its Chief Executive Commitee (NKW).

It now remains for Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski to endorse the choice.

Sawicki was compelled to resign in July 2012, after members of his party were accused of cronyism in connection with Poland's Agriculture Market Agency (ARR), which works in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture.

The agency, which owns several agricultural companies, is dominated by PSL members, and one company in particular, Elewarr, was alleged to have mismanaged public funds, as outlined in a report by Poland's Supreme Audit Office (NIK).

Sawicki stressed his own innocence from the outset.

Mariusz Blaszczak, leader of opposition Law and Justice's parliamentary party has criticised the former minister's return, saying that Sawicki “departed in an atmosphere of scandal” in 2012.

Swine fever

Sawicki is now due to visit an area near the Belarusian border with Deputy Prime Minister Piechocinski after two cases of swine fever among wild boars was discovered.

Pig farmers remain up in arms that the government has not put into action compensatory measures, the reason for Kalemba's resignation as minister of agriculture on Thursday.

Kalemba claimed that the government did not respond quick enough to implement the policies he had proposed.

The EU has said that Russia's initial ban on all EU pork products after discovery of swine fever in wild boars in Poland and Lithuania was “disproportionate.”

EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg has also argued that in all likelihood, the outbreak occurred in Belarus, and not within the EU.

African Swine Fever is not dangerous to humans. (nh/pg)

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