Poles Told To Open Economy

WARSAW -- Poland should open up new sectors for investors, speed up privatization and fight inflation with more determination if it wants to tap more foreign investment, participants at an international conference said.

The Finance Ministry, which co-sponsored the two-day event, said Saturday it wanted to boost foreign economic involvement, clearly less visible in Poland than in neighboring Hungary or the Czech Republic.

"There are many opportunities in Poland, of which foreign investors do not know and we want to show them," Deputy Finance Minister Krzysztof Kaliski said before the start of the conference, which gathered nearly 100 business executives and bankers from Western Europe and the United States.

Poland has attracted some $4.5 billion in foreign investment since the fall of communism in 1989. But in per-capita terms, it badly trails Hungary and the Czech Republic, which received $6.9 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively.

Representatives of international financial institutions who addressed the conference said the government should open up its largely monopolized energy, telecommunication and fuel sectors for foreign investment to try to change the situation.

The government recently approved a draft law aimed at partially selling off the fuel sector, but there are no immediate plans to privatize energy and telecommunication industries.