The Social Democrats’ Benny Engelbrecht will be the latest to walk through the revolving door at the Tax Ministry.
The 44-year-old Engelbrecht was announced on Monday as the replacement for the departing tax minister Morten Østergaard, who received a promotion to economy minister with Margrethe Vestager’s appointment to the European Council.
Engelbrecht will be the fifth tax minister in Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s cabinet and the eight to hold the position in just four years.
That the leadership of the Tax Ministry in one of the most tax-heavy countries in the world has switched hands so often has not escaped the criticism of high-ranking ministry officials.
Former Tax Ministry department head Peter Loft, who served in the position for 18 years before being fired in connection with the illegal leak of Thorning-Schmidt and her husband’s personal tax audit, said the frequent changes at the top of the ministry mean that more and more decisions are made by bureaucrats rather than the person appointed to lead the ministry.
“When a minister isn’t allowed to look at things for very long, then the civil servants’ interpretations of issues will take over. That in itself isn’t necessarily a problem, but it creates unrest and problems within a ministry that already has so many issues to contend with,” Loft told Politiken.
And there should be plenty of issues for Engelbrecht to take up upon becoming the latest to sit in the chair as tax minister.
“A long list of challenges awaits, so therefore he won’t have much time to celebrate [on Tuesday] as there will be a big stack of papers that he will have to look at,” Venstre’s Mads Rørvig told TV2 News.
Engelbrecht is seen as political insiders as a loyal supporter of the prime minister. He comes to the position as the party’s business spokesman and an MP since 2007. Prior to entering politics, he worked as a journalist, radio host and teacher.
The eight tax ministers since 2010 have been:
Kristian Jensen (V) 2004-2010
Troels Lund Poulsen (V) 2010-2011
Peter Christensen (V) 2011-2011
Thor Möger Pedersen (SF) 2011-2012
Holger K. Nielsen (SF) 2012-2013
Jonas Dahl (SF) 2013-2014
Morten Østergaard (R) 2014-2014
Benny Engelbrecht (S) 2014-