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Poland

Volume 171: debated on Friday 27 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he will take to help the Polish economy by converting loans to grants.

Poland has benefitted from successive rescheduling within the Paris club of debts to Governments. Under the most recent, in February, Poland need make no payments this year. The Paris club has also agreed, without commitment, to set up a working group on long-term debt issues once the first review of Poland's IMF standby programme has been successfully completed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what specific technological help has been given to Poland over the past two years; and what plans exist for it to be increased.

Subject to security considerations, western technology has been available through commercial channels. We believe Poland most needs the managerial skills and technical expertise to run free-market and democratic systems and we have created the know-how fund to supply this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by the European Community to help Poland.

The European Community has responded quickly and generously to the economic and political reforms in Poland by measures which include, 158 mecu—£117 million, approximately—free food, removal or suspension of all quantitative restrictions on Polish exports to the Community, generalised system of preferences status for exports into the EC, including the reduction of certain tariffs or levels, 1 billion ecu—£750 million, approximately—lending by the European investment bank, and 300mecu in 1991—£225 million, approximately—project aid for environmental, agricultural and training projects in Poland and Hungary.Poland will also benefit from the establishment of the European training foundation, the TEMPUS student mobility scheme and the European bank for reconstruction and development.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what restructuring of loans to Poland has so far taken place.

Poland's Government creditors agreed in the Paris club in February to reschedule 100 per cent. of principal and interest in arrears at the end of 1989 and payments due up to March 1991. Bank creditors agreed a rescheduling of almost all commercial debt in July 1988 over a 15-year period. Further talks are currently being held.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the European Community to assist Poland.

We have taken every opportunity to encourage Community support for Poland. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has taken a leading role in promoting close relations between the EC and Poland. We have encouraged and supported the numerous specific measures which have been put in place by the Community.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what food has been sent to Poland from European Community stocks.

The European Community has so far supplied 158 mecu—£117 million, approximately—of free food to Poland from Community stocks. The free food comprised deliveries of breadmaking wheat, maize, barley, beef, olive oil and citrus fruits.