Polish Toledo

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Monday, March 23, 2009

No G-20 Trip

Government’s spokesman Paweł Gras confirmed that Poland will not participate in the G-20 summit starting in London on April 2. The country, with the rest of the EU, will be represented by the current president of the bloc - the Czech Republic.

“The point of such a move is for the EU to speak with one voice” Graś was quoted by the news agency PAP. He also informed that the Czech Republic received precise instructions from member states on the topic.

According to earlier reports in the Polish media, English diplomats claimed that this Poland proved to be much better prepared to weather the crisis and hence may have a valuable input in the meeting.

The G-20 is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 economies: 19 of the world's 25 largest national economies plus the European Union, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. During their meeting in London they are to prepare a plan of revival for world economy and create the fundamentals of the new economic order of the world.

Bye, Bye Piwo

Poland’s Parliament has supported a Senate amendment banning the sale of low-alcohol drinks at mass events.

Only the Social Democratic Left was against the amendment, arguing that it was a European standard to sell drinks such as beer at mass events, including sports meets or soccer games.
Deputy Interior Minister Adam Rapacki said that the government initially had not been against the sale of beer, also allowing organizers this option in sponsoring.

In February Parliament decided to allow the sale of low-alcoholic drinks, including beer, at mass events, with the exception of high-risk gatherings. In March, the Senate introduced an amendment banning this. Feelings in both houses ran high and the issue also raised protests from Polish clergy.

The law is among others to provide safety for the football world cup in 2012. Now the amended law needs to be signed into force by the President.

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EU Brussels Summit

Politicians who commented on the outcome of the Brussels summit for Polish Radio Three this morning agreed it ended with a success for Poland.

Wladyslaw Stasiak, the deputy head of the presidential chancellery enumerated enhancing the bloc’s energy security and financial support for the project of the Eastern Partnership as the biggest successes. Deputy head of the European Parliament, Adam Bielan of the opposition Law and Justice party (PiS) pointed to the support for Nabucco project as an alternative for the Russian gas supplies for Central and Eastern Europe. Jaroslaw Gowin of the ruling Civic Platform (PO) pointed to the anti-crisis plan adopted by EU leaders as a correct solution to the global economic crisis.

Source: Polskie Radio 3-21-09

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reka reke myje

A long-term economic campaign encouraging Poles to buy national products called “Kupujnasze” (“Buy Ours”) has been launched today.

The co-initiator of the campaign Jacek Sadowski stresses it is about “affecting the economy in a real way,” immensely important at a time of finance crisis. He points out that 60 percent of GDP in Poland is based on domestic consumer activity.

“Kupujnasze.pl” is not the first such campaign in Poland. The previous one called “You supply jobs by buying Polish products” ("Kupując polskie produkty, dajesz pracę") was aimed at promoting patriotism-oriented consumer behavior.

Source: Polskie Radio 3-21-09

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Złoty - Moving Up

It has been a fairly good week for Poland’s currency – before the weekend the rate of the Polish złoty began growing.

Moods also improved in this country after Switzerland decided to cut interest rates – many Poles have mortgages in Swiss francs. Financial analyst Piotr Kuczyński spoke on Polish Radio of generally brighter outlooks:

Moods have improved on the markets and stock exchanges worldwide, there’s a rising appetite for risk, as we call it, and that immediately impacts on the currencies of developing countries, and the Polish złoty, as well. The other reason was the Swiss decision, not only to lower interest rates but most of all on intervention to keep the franc weak.

Piotr Kuczyński also said that inflation in Poland should start to drop as the position of the złoty improves.

17th province?

President Lech Kaczynski has declared himself in favor of creating a new province, by separating the capital city Warsaw from the central Mazovia province.

Lech Kaczynski said that administrative changes will be necessary especially after 2013, when as new system of distributing EU funds will come in force.

‘My idea is simple. The mayor of Warsaw should also be the province governor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sobieski Vodka a Big Hit

It's what marketers strive for: to have their message fit the times.

Long before the first economists began forecasting a recession, and the markets spiraled downward, Sobieski Vodka launched their "Truth in Vodka" campaign, with the pitch that consumers don't have to pay a "king's ransom" to drink a quality vodka.

The message apparently has struck a chord.

According to Impact, a spirits trade magazine, Sobieski has hit the 255,000-case sales milestone faster than any other newly introduced spirits brand.

Industry trends continue to be favorable for Sobieski. Recent figures from industry trade group the Distilled Spirits Council have shown that sales of super-premium vodkas are slipping, while premium-priced vodka sales continue to rise.

"I think that consumers are trading some of that image-badge mentality with the reality that their wallets may not be in the same shape," says Chester Brandes, president and chief executive of Imperial Brands, the Belvedere unit that imports of Sobieski vodka from Poland.

"By accident, we've caught a wave," Brandes says of the company's advertising.

Brandes says consumers are trading down, but doing it with care. He notes, for example, that consumers aren't simply selecting the vodkas at the lowest price point. Growth at the low end was marginal.

"I think that's somewhat telling....Consumer s are not prepared to overspend," he says.

Still, he doesn't expect to see consumers skimp on certain luxuries.

"I think alcohol is one of the last luxuries consumers are going to give up," Brandes says.

Source: CNBC 3-12-09

IMF - Ain't Gonna Do It

Poland does not need to take a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and does not plan any debt issues on foreign markets for now, a deputy finance minister said on Thursday. 'We have no specific plans about an IMF loan. Poland does not need to turn to IMF programs,' Dominik Radziwill told reporters.

Source: Reuters 03-12-09

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pułaski May Join Winston Churchill

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)today introduced a resolution to proclaim Casimir Pulaski (father of the U.S. Calvary) to be an honorary citizen of the United States. Pulaski, a Polish military officer who fought on the side of America during the Revolutionary War, died during a battle in Savannah, Georgia, in October of 1779.

After coming to America, Pulaski wrote to George Washington, "I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it."

Other original co-sponsors are U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Pulaski has been honored throughout our nation's history. In September, 1929, Congress designated October 11 as Pulaski Day to be observed by Presidential Proclamation; it also authorized the Post Office to issue a Pulaski commemorative stamp. In 1973, Illinois designated the first Monday of March as Pulaski Commemorative day in Illinois and in 1986 declared the day to be a state holiday.

Pole for Top Nato Post?

Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski is likely to shortly submit his candidature for the position of the Nato secretary general. Polish embassies have been instructed to sound out the Alliance member countries' governments on this.

Confidential instructions about 'probing the intentions' as to the election of a new Nato secretary general were received by Polish ambassadors in the 27 Nato member states. Earlier, Mr Sikorski's chances were unofficially sounded out by the Polish embassies in Rome and with the Nato itself.

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza 2009-03-04

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Taliban Killing Poles

Recovery of Polish abductee's body increasingly unlikely.

The chances of recovering the body of the Polish engineer murdered by the Taliban militants in Pakistan are waning due to the demands made to the Pakistani government, writes Polish daily Dziennik.

In an interview with the paper, a son of one of the local mullahs has said that handing over the body can take just two days, but the Taliban always demand the release of other militants in return. Meanwhile, the government in Islamabad has so far declined to free any imprisoned Taliban.

Dziennik has also discovered that mullah Shah Abdul Aziz, who previously negotiated the release of Piotr Stañczak, and the handing over of his body following his death, has for the second time gone to the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan. The previous mission was futile, as the Taliban demanded the release of 60 people, to which Washington firmly objected. Now the conditions have changed to four important commanders, writes the daily.

Source: Poland.pl 2009-03-01

Poland's Economy Stable

While failing economies have sparked riots and financial bailouts in parts of Eastern Europe, Poland and the Czech Republic have relatively stable economies and are trying to distinguish themselves from their ailing neighbors.

After the formidable economic reforms of recent years, these countries don't want their image tarnished by Hungary, Ukraine and Latvia, which have all received International Monetary Fund bailouts.

They fear that being lumped together will drive away even more foreign investment and capital. In Brussels, where Polish and Czech leaders helped strike down a Hungarian plea for the European Union to provide up to $241 billion to help restore trust and solvency in eastern members, the message from Warsaw and Prague was clear: we don't need rescuing.

As part of its mission to keep up investor confidence in Poland, the central bank governor is in the United States this week for meetings with World Bank to present Poland as a stable and trustworthy economic partner.

Anti-communist Fighters Day

WW2 veterans from Kraków want the 1st of March to be declared Underground Anti-communist Fighters Day. They support the initiative of honoring soldiers persecuted by the communist regime.
Jerzy Bukowski, head of the Alliance of Veteran and Independence Organizations in Krakow explains: 'Our intention is for the Parliament to pass a resolution proclaiming a day of soldiers who fought for many years with the Soviet enslavement, who were beyond doubt historically right, which was confirmed after the transition of 1989.'

Two major parliamentary clubs, the ruling Civic Platform and the major opposition Law and Justice party have already declared their support for the resolution.

Source: Polish Radio 02.03.2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Shoppers flock to Poland

The weak zloty makes Poland's borderland an attractive shopping spot for Germans, Slovaks and Lithuanians.

The current exchange rate means a harvest for retailers as the rate of the euro has almost reached five zlotys.

The retail boom in shopping malls close to borders is the flip side of the weak zloty, which saw the government selling euros last week to prop up Poland's vulnerable currency.

Slovaks are coming in droves to Poland to ski but also to indulge in some major bargain hunting. In Poland the majority of retail items are between 20 and 40 percent cheaper than back in Slovakia. Home improvement stores, furniture and furnishings shops are besieged with shoppers from across the southern border.