Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki dismissed 17 deputy ministers on March 12 and promised further sackings over the coming weeks.
Mr Morawiecki had previously announced a plan is to reduce the number of deputy ministers by 20-25 per cent. There are currently 126 people in ministerial posts. The reform comes amidst criticism of the current government, and comes in the wake of opposition deputies revealing that huge rewards and bonuses were being paid out to members of the government. In 2017, the previous prime minister Beata Szydło spent five million zloty on bonuses for her ministers and deputy ministers (and this is not the full amount, as the ministries of defence and justice have yet to disclose their share).
Commenting on the changes at a press conference, Mr Morawiecki stated that the dismissals were not personal or political, but are meant to improve government efficiency. He added that additional changes to the structure of the government are planned and will focus on a “more admin-orientated and less political administration.”
“We are continuing our internal reforms in such a way that the government is a little less political, and more clerical,” Mr Morawiecki told a press conference following the announcement. He claimed that the dismissals would force greater cooperation between ministries, and referred to “comparative analyses” with the most developed European countries – Germany, Austria, Switzerland or Sweden.
Mr Morawiecki said the changes were also designed to foster better co-operation between government agencies, which tended to close themselves off in their work. He also confirmed that a newly prepared bill will change the official status of deputy ministers from nominated officials to regular civil servants. He also said that there will be an annulment of all bonuses and rewards for ministers and their deputies.
Opposition lawmakers said the dismissals do not amount to much, because most officials would continue in their jobs, simply with lower-ranking titles.
The head of the prime minister’s chancellery, Michał Dworczyk, told TVN24 that the prime minister had introduced a “new management system.” He added that the aim of the changes is to make the government more technocratic than political. He explained that the prime minister’s decision was influenced by special calculations.
“When calculating the number of people who should be in the management of each ministry, the model took into account the budget, number of employees in the department and the number of tasks,” explained Mr Dworczyk. He added that the prime minister had consulted with the heads of individual ministries regarding the resignation of deputy ministers.
Following the changes, the undersecretaries of state will have to give up their party activity and will not be able to speak about political matters, as they will be reassigned to the civil service.