Ukraine leader names Poland's post-Soviet reformer as aide

22nd April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday appointed the architect of Poland's successful post-Soviet privatisation drive as his economic adviser and representative to the cabinet.

Leszek Balcerowicz's selection and the naming of Slovakia's former finance minister Ivan Miclos as the joint chief adviser to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman signals an effort by Poroshenko to reaffirm his commitment to the belt-tightening measures prescribed by the IMF.

Ukraine last week emerged from a prolonged political crisis, that paralysed the government and froze the release of Western loans, with the appointment of Poroshenko's protege Groysman following the resignation of the embattled Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

But the biggest government shakeup since Ukraine's February 2014 pro-EU revolution also cast aside finance minister Natalie Jaresko -- a Western darling who arranged a crucial debt restructuring deal and championed IMF-backed policies since her appointment in December 2014.

Jaresko's departure and the promotion of 38-year-old Groysman to the premiership post left some economists anxious that Poroshenko may become hostage to the interests of a handful of powerful tycoons who have held back reforms for years.

Balcerowicz and Miclos are both viewed as business-friendly economic experts who are likely to keep pursuing a stalled austerity programme that has delayed the release of billions of dollars in IMF funding and other Western aid.

The International Monetary Fund would particularly like to see Ukraine follow through on its pledge to stop subsidising natural gas prices and adopt market principles that are likely to be deeply unpopular with the majority of voters.

Poroshenko said in a statement that he and Groysman intended to work as a "single team that will reform the country".

© 2016 AFP

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