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5/11/2006

ICTSI to expand in Poland

The Polish port operation of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) is expanding capacity in anticipation of increased cargo traffic in the coming months, the company said in a statement.

ICTSI said its Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia, Poland, "continues to serve new clients even as it beefs up operations and service delivery in anticipation of more vessel calls in the coming months."

Source: INQ7.net

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Robin Hood gets flights to Poland

Wizzair is to be the first airline to begin flights between Doncaster Sheffield’s Robin Hood Airport and Katowice, in the south of Poland.

The airline has said it will begin three flights a week, on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, from September 19, with single tickets starting from £19.99, including taxes and charges.

József Váradi, chief executive officer of Wizz Air, said: "We are proud to be the first airline to offer low fare flights to Doncaster Sheffield from Central and Eastern Europe.

"Now many more people from this region can easily discover new exciting places, like the beautiful royal city of Krakow or the unique Wieliczka Salt Mine, both in close vicinity of Katowice International Airport."

In April Wizz Air said it would begin flights to Katowice from Dublin, and already flies to the Polish city, as well as Warsaw and Gdansk, from Liverpool.

Source:Find cheap flight deals at Cheapflights.co.uk

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EU backs Poland's GM crop ban

Poland’s controversial ban on the use of 16 varieties of genetically modified maize has been backed by the European Commission, despite warnings the law broke EU rules.

The Commission authorised the ban, which also prohibits the use of around 700 non-GM maize varieties in Poland, after it was given unanimous approval by EU member states.

The move is the latest in the ongoing row over genetically modified (GM) crops and food, and threatens to put the EU back on a collision course with the World Trade Organisation.

Poland’s government, which passed the ban in the country’s parliament last week, used cultivation rules set out in a 2002 EU Directive to justify its stance.

The clause says any Member State can ban crop varieties that are not suitable for growing on its land. Poland said both the GM and non-GM maizes had a long growing cycle and, because of the country’s climate, would not reach the necessary ripeness needed for harvesting.

The ban has caused considerable debate in Poland, which agreed to drop a previous ban on GM crops before joining the EU in May 2004.

Several leading Polish scientists led a public appeal against re-introducing a GM ban because it could hamper research. The US Foreign Agricultural Service also reported that the Polish Senate was split on the proposal.

The victory for those in favour, which can now only be dashed by Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski, could lead to serious repercussions on the world stage.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled in February this year that the EU and six member states had broken free trade rules by imposing a moratorium on GM imports between June 1999 and August 2003.

The decision, in theory, opened up the EU market to GM food.

The issue, however, remains contentious and strong public opinion against GM food has forced major food companies and retailers to issue non-GM guarantees to customers in recent years.

Arguments over the safety of GM food have also been joined by debate on how GM and non-GM crops could co-exist, ensuring consumers continue to have a choice.

Anti-GM campaigners argue that GM crops will cause widespread contamination, leaving consumers with no GM-free choice at all. Pro-GM forces on the other hand argue that consumers must be given the choice, and that the WTO ruling backs this up.

The safety and co-existence debates have consistently split member states in the European Council over the last couple of years, despite the Commission approving several GM crop varieties for use in animal feed.

Cost may, in the end, be a crucial factor. Europe’s opposition to GM food could increase costs for food firms by up to 16 per cent in some cases over the next three years as it becomes ever harder to source non-GM supplies, according to a report commissioned last year by Agricultural Biotechnology Europe.

Source: Breaking News On Food in Central & Eastern Europe

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Poland attracts world investors

Poland’s attractiveness for foreign investors stems from the economic situation of the country rather that from any incentives for foreign capital says a representative of the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland Roman Rewald. According to an international consulting company A.T.Kearney Poland ranks fifth in the world ranking of states attracting world investors. This country has become even more attractive after becoming an EU member, considers Roman Rewald, but to assure more investments Poland’s promotion abroad has to be intensified as should be incentives for foreign investors in Poland .The government expects that foreign investments in Poland will exceed 10 million USD in 2006.According to Poland’s National Bank last year’s figures amounted to 7 million 700 thousand USD.

Source: Polskie Radio SA

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Poland blocks CEDC purchase of local vodka maker

Poland's anti-monopoly office on Wednesday blocked Central European Distribution Corp's (CEDC) plan to take over a local vodka maker and strengthen its position in the Polish market, the office said in a statement.

CEDC, based in the U.S. and listed on Nasdaq, owns two local vodka makers Polmos Bialystok and Bols, and planned to take control of peer Polmos Lublin through a purchase of Polish firm Jablonna, which holds a controlling stake.

"As a leading spirits distributor and producer in Poland, CEDC could gain too strong a position in the local market on the back of this acquisition," the statement said.

The anti-monopoly office said that by taking over Polmos Lublin, the owner of Zoladkowa Gorzka flavoured vodka brand, CEDC would see its Polish market share to rise to far above 40 percent, potentially threatening competition in the industry.

Last year CEDC bought a majority stake in Polmos Bialystok -- the owner of the Zubrowka (Bison Grass) vodka brand and the country's second-largest vodka maker.

Bialystok controls about a fifth of the local market -- the world's fourth largest after Russia, the United States and Ukraine -- while Bols has around 11 percent of the market.

Source:

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5/9/2006

Poland's productivity growth second only to China

According to the Conference Board, quoted in the FT, May 1, Poland's productivity growth accelerated by 7.7 per cent last year, second only to China.

Productivity - output produced per unit input (for example the quantity of a good produced in a given time period) - is a key indicator in assessing economic growth potential. Essentially, the faster goods and services can be produced with the same resources, the quicker a country accumulates wealth. And wealth usually finds its way into the property market.

However, although Poland's productivity growth rate accelerated the most, its workforce is not the most productive. According to the FT it is still half the European average. Thus Poland has a long way to go.

Interestingly, Poland's productivity growth is occurring despite 20 per cent of the workforce being employed in agriculture, which produces only 3 per cent of GDP. The productivity growth is apparently coming to a significant extent from foreign firms operating out of Poland, as they bring better production technology.

The hope is, and history has often shown, that countries which host foreign firms bringing new technology will absorb some of the technology themselves. Thus through 'technology diffusion' Poland may become even more productive.

Source:

999Today

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Poland's Zloty Continues Rise vs. Dollar

The Polish zloty continued its rise against the dollar Monday amid a general weakening of the U.S. currency, showing strength despite a new government coalition with Euro-skeptic parties.

The zloty was at 2.9929 to the dollar, up from 3.0129 on Friday. A month ago, it took 3.2543 zlotys to buy a dollar.

One analyst said it was a case of dollar weakness, not zloty strength, with the dollar falling against the euro and Asian currencies.

"This is all about the weak dollar, and has nothing to do with the zloty," said Ryszard Petru, chief economist for BPH Bank.

The zloty was also trading at 3.8230 to the euro, compared to 3.8212 on Friday, with investors largely ignoring a new coalition agreement that gives Cabinet posts to politicians who had opposed Poland's 2004 entry into the European Union.

Andrzej Lepper, a populist who leads the farm-based Self-Defense party, joined the government, becoming agriculture minister and a deputy prime minister. Roman Giertych, head of the nationalist League of Polish Families, was named education minister and also deputy prime minister. Both leaders oppose adopting the euro.

Petru said investors were not reacting because Poland's economic fundamentals -- including strong growth and low inflation -- remain good.

Though Poland trades mainly with other European countries, the strength of the currency against the dollar has had a significant effect on the local economy, mostly by cushioning the shock of the rising price of oil, which is priced in dollars.

The euro fell slightly against the dollar Monday to US$1.2727 after hitting a year high Friday at US$1.2735.

SOURCE:
Associated Press

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Wawel posts 58% rise in Q1 net profit

The Polish confectionery group Wawel SA has posted net profit of PLN6.34m (US$2.1m) for the first quarter of 2006, up 58% from PLN4.02m in 2005.

Wawel have the longest experience and tradition among confectionery manufacturers in Poland. It has been established in 1910 and has been famous before second world war for strong local brands as well as Pischinger and Suhard licence production. In the twenties the companies have merged giving Wawel international importance. In 1951 the factory has been transformed into government belonging company. It has performed extremely well throughout forty years developing its own strong brands. The company has been privatised in 1992 following economy transformation in Poland. The same year Wawel was started to be noted at Warsaw sock exchange. Wawel belongs to biggest players in confectionery industry in Poland and with over 100 million PLN turnover(1999)gains close to 4 % of the local market what is quite an achievement considering extremely strong local and international competition active on Polish market. It is remarkable that Wawel is not questionable leader in Light sugar free products gaining 80% of this developing segment.

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More doctor strikes in southern Poland

Doctors in seven hospitals of southern Poland have begun a strike demanding pay rises and an increase in outlays on the health service. The hospitals are working as if it was a weekend. Most doctors are on call at home.
Polish doctors will stage a major protest in Warsaw on Wednesday. It was to coincide with a parliamentary debate on reforming the health care but on the premier’s request the debate was postponed by two weeks.

Source: Polskie Radio SA

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EU Lets Poland Ban GMO Maize Seeds Across Country

Poland has won European Union approval for its national ban on using 16 types of genetically modified (GMO) maize seeds, with the restriction to stay in place indefinitely, the European Commission said on Monday.


Poland was also allowed to ban the use of some 700 non-GMO maize varieties throughout the entire country, it said.

"In the case of both the GM and non-GM maize varieties in question, the varieties are known to have too high a maturity class to enable them to be cultivated in Poland," the Commission said in a statement.

"This means that these maize varieties are characterised by a long growing cycle and, under Polish climatic conditions, will not reach the necessary ripeness required at the harvesting stage," it said.

The Commission usually takes the view that if a region wants to ban GMO crops, such restrictions have to be scientifically justified and crop-specific -- not overtly political motivated or blanket bans on all biotech seeds or crops.

No biotech seeds have been planted in Poland and the ruling conservatives, who have long backed a GMO-free Poland, have said they could even seek changes to the bloc's biotech policy.


Source: REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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5/7/2006

Poland shares US opinion on Russian energy policy

Polish president Lech Kaczynski has said he shares the opinion of the US vice president on Russia’s energy related policy. At the Thursday conference in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, devoted to European integration and cooperation with the United States in forging a common Eastern policy, Dick Cheney appealed to Russia to refrain from using energy resources as a weapon in furthering its international goals. President Kaczynski expressed hope this view will serve as an eye opener for those European leaders who do not show a deeper understanding of Russian policies, to adopt a more sober approach to these matters. On the other hand it is a clear sign for Moscow that the United States are aware of the tendencies influencing Russian actions. The Polish head of state added that the Vilnius conference has brought closer the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Lech Kaczynski said it has helped him define Poland’s policy toward that region. It should be based on goodneighborly relations and joint initiatives. He underscored that NATO and EU expansion are the most important processes for Central and Eastern European states. The Polish president also mentioned the talks he had in Vilnius with his Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Georgian opposite numbers on a common energy policy. He disclosed Poland has received interesting propositions in this respect, but they require further study by the Polish side

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Come back and help us, Poland begs its people

So many young Poles are leaving to find jobs and a better life in Britain that bosses back home are desperate for them to return to keep the wheels of Polish industry turning, writes Daniel McLaughlin in Wroclaw in the Observer. Read more here.

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Poland could face fine by above-quota production

Poland has exceeded its annual milk production quota by almost 300,000 tons, or 4 percent, the state PAP news agency reported on Tuesday.

Under the Accession Treaty, Poland, as a new member of the European Union, had an annual quota of 8.642 million tons, but it actually produced some 8.930 million tons of milk in the 2005/2006 quota year, the Agricultural Market Agency's spokesman Radoslaw Iwanski was quoted as saying.

According to the Agriculture Minister Krzysztof Jurgiel, Poland had applied for a increased quota and was waiting for a decision from the European Commission. If approved, the quota could be lifted by some 416,000 tons. However, the country could face a fine for excessive production. Roman Wenerski, head of The Agricultural Market Agency, said earlier that the fine for each kg of milk produced above the limit was 51 groszes (about 17 U.S. cents).

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Eureko opens Assistance Centre in Poland

Eureko's Assistance Centre, EuroCross International, the largest medical assistance centre in The Netherlands, has started operations (1 May 2006) in Warsaw. From its new office, EuroCross Poland provides medical and technical assistance for the Polish insurer, PZU. PZU has some 15 million customers and is the largest insurer in Central and Eastern Europe.

Yesterday at 08.00 the Assistance Centre opened its doors and services.The first report received by the Assistance Centre was of a car accident in Germany, which Assistance attended directly. The Warsaw office has launched with 25 employees, who were trained by experienced colleagues from the Netherlands over the last couple of months.

EuroCross recently signed a contract with the Polish insurer and has therefore established a Polish company named 'EuroCross International Polska sp z.o.o.' "With the introduction of an assistance centre in Poland Eureko seeks opportunities to expand to Central and Eastern Europe", says EuroCross Netherlands Director, Lex Mentink. Lukas Zelnicek, manager at EuroCross Prague and also responsible for the new operation in Warsaw adds: " In PZU we found a solid partner and we are proud to serve so many customers".

EuroCross Poland benefits from the use of a worldwide network that has been built over the last 24 years. A dedicated network management and medical team has conducted negotiations with hospitals, ambulance services and car assistance providers in Poland. EuroCross Poland co-operates closely with the EuroCross Netherlands office. It is expected that over 10.000 assistance files will be processed on an annual basis.

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5/2/2006

It's been two years since Poland joined the EU

May 1st is at the same time an anniversary of Poland’s entry into the European Union. It was 2 years ago that Poland, together with 9 other countries, became a full member of the bloc. While the first year of membership was generally assessed positively, the other one witnessed a crisis. Observers and analysts agree that the latest 12 months of enlarged European Union were dominated by the suspension of the ratification of the EU Constitution, stormy negotiations on the 2007-2013 budget or the opposition of some old EU member states to the liberalization of the services market.
Poland’s efforts to enter the EU began in 1992 and it was on May 1st 2004 that 10 countries, Poland among them, joined the 15-member bloc.

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FalconStor Wins in Poland

FalconStor Software, Inc., the leading developer of proven data protection solutions, today announced that the Wroclaw Centre for Networking and Supercomputing (WCNS), one of Poland's leading academic centers for technology excellence, has deployed FalconStor's IPStor(R) software to consolidate 2TB of fragmented, difficult-to-manage data stored on direct-attached storage across its network. The institution's network comprises hundreds of heterogeneous servers running various flavors of Irix, Linux, Solaris, and Unix. FalconStor partnered with Polcom to integrate the IPStor solution at WCNS.

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Poland’s productivity growth races ahead (FT.com)

When the shifts change, hundreds of workers stream out of the new television factory in Mlawa owned by LG Electronics, the South Korean company. Its managers may be surprised to learn that LGE’s Polish workers may well be more productive than their counterparts in South Korea.

A report by the Conference Board, a research company, has found that Poland’s productivity growth accelerated by 7.7 per cent last year, second to China and much higher than the rich economies of western Europe or the US. It calculated that gross domestic product per hour worked was $19.90 for Polish workers, outpacing the $19.40 for South Korea.

But Polish productivity is still less than half the average of west European countries, and trails most of its ex-communist neighbours.

David Yoon, human resources director at the LGE factory about 100km north of Warsaw, says that Polish workers were initially unhappy about some of his company’s management techniques, such as hanging large signs above the production line exhorting workers to “Get it right the first time”, and “Don’t say ‘No’ but seek alternative solutions”.

“Some of the older workers said it reminded them of communist times, but now they are used to it,” he says.

The Korean company is setting up training programmes as it starts to exhaust the local talent pool of workers for the factory, which has become LGE’s main European flat-screen television set producer.

“The fundamentals of Polish workers are not bad,” says Mr Yoon. “And once they have been taught a technique, they stick to it exactly. Every month, we break production records.”

The Koreans are not the only ones impressed with the quality of their Polish workers.

A recent study by KPMG, the auditing company, found that most foreign investors were impressed by the high level of qualification in their Polish workforces.

Poland’s rapid leap in productivity is taking place in spite of the drag caused by the 20 per cent of the Polish workforce that is employed in agriculture – producing only 3 per cent of GDP. The country also has the highest level of unemployment in the European Union, at 17.8 per cent, and the lowest level of labour participation in the OECD, the world’s most industrialised countries.

Many of those out of work are unemployable in a modern economy and some Polish companies are experiencing difficulty in finding qualified workers. A recent study by Poland’s central bank found that 42 per cent of firms had trouble finding qualified workers.

The booming city of Wroclaw in western Poland is trying to lure expatriates working in the UK to return home to take up jobs with the many foreign companies relocating there.

Although Polish companies restructured following the slump in the economy in 2001-2002, the fastest productivity growth is found in businesses owned by foreign investors.

“Productivity is higher for most foreign investors than for the average Polish company, since investors build new, modern facilities using the latest technology and operations design know-how” says Michal Kwiecinski, of McKinsey & Company, the management consultants.

“Very often, their productivity is even higher than in their home country facilities, because companies tend to optimise their processes in parallel to transferring production or service centres to Poland.”

That is the case with LGE, which has expanded so rapidly in Poland that it quickly outgrew the factory built in 2004, when it began production in Mlawa. It has now moved into a much larger new factory.

Other plants are being built by the company near Wroclaw in a joint venture with Philips of the Netherlands.

Polish salaries, although much lower than western Europe, are 200 per cent higher than in LGE’s factories in China and Indonesia, and went up 6 per cent last year.

But LGE has no plans to reduce its Polish investment.

“We can overcome wage differences by productivity,” says Mr Yoon.

(By Jan Cienski, FT)

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Cognis Poland gains ISO 9001 certification

The Polish affiliate of global specialty chemicals supplier Cognis has gained ISO 9001 certification for its quality management systems, after successfully passing an audit of its two sites carried out by the DQS (German Association for the Certification of Management Systems). The certification further strengthens Cognis' position in the Central and Eastern Europe region, particularly in the food technology market.
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ISO 9001 certification attests to the excellence of Cognis Poland's quality management system, both at its head office in Warsaw and its plant in Brzesc Kujawski. In their report, the auditors reserved particular praise for the clarity and intelligibility of the company's quality management systems, and commented on the high level of motivation among employees, especially in the areas of occupational health and safety and customer satisfaction. Furthermore, the manufacturing infrastructure at the Brze Kujawski site was described as facilitating high quality at every stage of the production process, and being maintained in a very clean condition.

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Poland's Mayday schedule

Poland celebrates Mayday on the 1st of May. It also celebrates the May 3rd constitution on May 3rd. Due to the days of the week on which these dates fall this year, many people in Poland have taken a 9 day vacation.

For the most, part most businesses in Poland are shut down from Saturday the 29th of April on till Wednesday the 3rd of May. Many employees, however, have taken the opportunity to add two vacation days to this schedule which has left many businesses short of people. The businesses have, therefore, chosen to shutdown or go into reduced operations until next week.

Even though the calendar schedule has been beneficial to people who want to take long vacations without having to charge too much vacation charge to their accounts, the weather has been most the uncooperative and has been simply cold and wet. So the good has come the bad.

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4/28/2006

European Nations to Open Markets in Poland

European Nations to Open Markets in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — Maja Checinska is reaping the rewards of waiting.

For several weeks, the Polish architect has been living in a Madrid apartment, biding her time until a construction company can legally put her on the payroll. She's been promised a cash bonus for her patience _ her only instructions being to familiarize herself with Spanish building norms and refuse all other job offers.

Checinska owes her luck to new labor rules: On May 1, Spain, Portugal and Finland join Britain, Ireland and Sweden in ending all restrictions to workers from new EU member states.

"My new company really wanted me because they plan to open an office in Poland in a couple of years and see me as someone who can help them with that," said Checinska, 25. "But they wanted to hire me legally _ and without the bother of applying for any special documents."

For young workers from Poland and the seven other former Soviet bloc countries that joined the EU in 2004, the gradual labor market liberalization has meant opportunities their parents' generation could hardly have imagined.

Some of the workers benefiting from the lifting of labor restrictions are so young they lose sight of the historic change this marks for Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs and the others who, until 16 years ago, were trapped behind the Iron Curtain and banned from traveling freely to the West.

In the case of Checinska, her parents faced the frightening choice of emigrating to Australia for good or sticking it out under communism _ and chose to stay. "I'm living out their dreams now," Checinska said.

Since 2004, the new EU members _ eight eastern European countries along with Malta and Cyprus _ have seen their citizens board budget flights to Britain, Ireland and Sweden in large numbers to seek jobs.

No country has sent more workers than Poland, whose 38 million people make it the largest EU newcomer by far, and whose jobless rate of 18 percent _ the highest in the EU _ pushes many, especially the young, to seek a better life elsewhere. About 200,000 Poles have registered to work in Britain since 2004, with some 100,000 in Ireland and 8,000 in Sweden.

But even more _ up to 1 million Poles _ are believed to be working now throughout Europe, sometimes illegally in countries like Germany that haven't formally opened their labor markets, said Krystyna Iglicka, a migration expert with the Center of International Relations in Warsaw.

Nine old EU member states _ including Germany and France _ are expected to maintain restrictions on workers from EU newcomers for at least another two years.

Though May marks a new stage in the expanding labor market, migration experts expect the new round of departures to pale in comparison with the large numbers that have already left for Britain and Ireland _ whose strong economies and low jobless rates make them the biggest draw.

Other factors include the strong pound, which Poles can exchange for Polish zlotys at advantageous rates; the fluency in English many Poles already have; and a tradition going back to World War II of mass migrations of Poles to Britain _ where Poland's government-in-exile was also based during the Nazi occupation.

Those networks mean newcomers often have family and friends there to help them get started, Iglicka said.

But as they launch their new lives and help ease the crisis of high unemployment for their home countries, these modern migrants are also presenting new challenges to the lands they leave behind.

"In this situation, you lose the most active elements because the less exciting people stay at home and drink," said Krzysztof Bobinski, an analyst at Unia & Polska, a pro-EU organization. "I wouldn't call it a 'brain drain' because that term makes me think of rocket scientists. But it is a hemorrhaging and I don't think it's going to do Poland any good in the long run."

Emigration is also depriving Poland and the neighboring Baltics of much-needed labor, threatening to slow some of the EU's fastest-growing economies. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are home to just 7.2 million residents, estimate the numbers that have left are in the tens of thousands _ possibly more.

Poland has already noticed a dangerous shortage of anesthesiologists. And the western Polish city of Wroclaw is so concerned departures could cause a shortage of skilled workers in coming years _ and dampen a local investment boom _ that it plans an advertising campaign in Britain this September letting Poles know attractive jobs await them back home.

Baltic construction companies have been particularly hard hit, and several have begun looking east to Russia and Belarus for workers.

Lithuanian Rimantas Bublys said his company, Vigysta, had to cast aside any and all standards for employee behavior just to keep its projects moving forward.

"Two years ago we used to fire our workers who were lazy or had drinking problems," Byblys said. "Today we cannot afford to fire anyone because there are no replacements available. Our business would simply stop."

___

Associated Press writers Tim Jacobs in Latvia, Liudas Dapkus in Lithuania, Jari Tanner in Estonia and Pablo Gorondi in Hungary contributed to this report.

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Stock investors in Poland slow down before the long weekend

Stock investors in Poland slow down before the long weekend

The WIG20 index rebounded 0.83 percent on Friday and ended the week above last week’s level despite Thursday falls.

Within last week, the 20 share blue chips index grew 0.24 percent to 3,193.27 points. Today, shares of blue chips worth PLN 783m changed hands, including PLN 262 of KGHM stock. A day ago it was PLN 1.23 billion. The decrease was widely expected before the long weekend in Poland with Monday and Wednesday with the stock exchange closed.

KGHM copper producer rebounded half of yesterday’s loss and ended 3.7 percent up at PLN 112.5. Grupa Kety grew 5.3 percent to PLN 140. Fuel companies Lotos and PKN Orlen as well as PKO BP bank rebounded after yesterday’s losses. Pekao bank and Bioton insulin producer continued their decrease. Skotan was the best performer in the last week – the stock has gained 85 percent after the company said it would build its bio diesel plants in Torun and near Krakow.

Out of small caps, Drozapol was the best performer with 6.6 percent jump. The company expects to raise its sales to PLN 400m and net income to PLN 12-16m within two years.

Źródło:
» APA - Austria Presse Agentur

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New EWS Wagons from Poland and Romania

New EWS Wagons from Poland and Romania
British freight operator EWS ordered 368 new freight wagons. The first part will soon enter into service the rest are still being built.
A major part of the order is being built in Central European manufacturing facilties. Polish rolling stock manufacturers will deliver 145 new tank wagons for EWS's contract with the Total Fina Elf oil company. The wagons are expected to arrive into the UK by the end of May. They will be delivered in batches of ten a week until all are delivered.

68 aggregate hoppers are currently being constructed in Romania, with the first set of these wagons due to be delivered by June. All of these wagons are expected to be delivered to EWS by the end of October.

EWS says the new fleet, such as 'omindeck' wagons for carrying steel, will enable the company to win new freight volumes to the railway as it targets traffic which currently only goes by road, making progress on EWS's plans to increase rail freight volumes in Britain.

The 155 omindeck wagons have gone through an extensive design phase, and tenders have been issued for the construction of these wagons to be delivered to EWS by the end of the year.

EWS says these wagons have been designed for its steel industry customers and will be multi-purpose, enabling current road-only freight movements to be won to rail for the first time.

EWS has invested in over 3,000 new wagons since the company was formed ten years ago.

(Source: Railnews.co.uk, Railway Market magazine, 28 April 2006)

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3/8/2006

Poland Agency Delays UniCredit Decision

Poland Agency Delays UniCredit Decision

Poland's banking authority delayed a decision Wednesday on whether Italy's UniCredit should be granted majority voting rights in BPH, the third-largest Polish bank.

The Banking Supervisory Commission's decision further stalls the merger of BPH with Poland's second-largest bank Pekao SA under Italian lender UniCredit, part of a larger deal between UniCredit and German Bank HVB.

Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska, who took part in the commission's meeting, told reporters the decision was delayed until March 15.

However, National Bank chief Leszek Balcerowicz later said no decision was guaranteed next week, when the seven-member commission resumes deliberations.

Also on Wednesday, EU regulators said they started legal action against Poland for trying to block the planned bank merger.

The European Commission said Poland may have broken EU rules on the free movement of capital and the right of companies to do business anywhere in the 25-nation bloc when it refused to clear the Polish part of the pan-European banking tie-up.

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PZU hits new record in 2005

PZU hits new record in 2005

Grupa PZU, Poland’s former monopoly insurer, had PLN 3.2 billion (EUR 825.6m) of net income last year. Half of it is to be given to shareholders.

Grupa PZU, Poland’s largest insurance company, had PLN 3.2 billion of net income in 2005, or over 51 percent more than in 2004. The life business only generated PLN 1.74 billion of net income, or 28.5 percent more than a year earlier. A dividend will be paid out.

“We want to pay out 50 percent of the income”, Cezary Stypulkowski, PZU CEO said.

Earlier, the management said that 25-50 percent of the income would be recommended as dividend.

“We may pay out half of the income because we have no acquisition plans”, the CEO added.

PZU wanted to acquire Bank BPH.

“IF the merger with Pekao fails and the conflict among our shareholders ends, PZU could be a good partner to BPH”, Cezary Stypulkowski said.

(PLN 1 = EUR 0.258)