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Cablegate: Poland: Ambassador's Courtesy Call On New

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS WARSAW 004065

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NCE FOR DKOSTELANCIK AND MSESSUMS, STATE FOR
EUR/ERA, COMMERCE FOR 4232/ITA/MAC/EUR/OECA/MROGERS,
TREASURY FOR MGAERTNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EAIR ECPS ELTN PREL PL
SUBJECT: POLAND: AMBASSADOR'S COURTESY CALL ON NEW
MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND CONSTRUCTION POLACZEK

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

1. (U) Ambassador called on new Minister of Transport and
Construction, Jerzy Polaczek, on December 9 to discuss the
new government's plans for speeding up infrastructure
development. Minister Polaczek commenting that his first
priority was to ensure that he spent the government's
resources wisely. In discussing his plans to improve Poland's
road infrastructure, Polaczek explained that he plans to
change the financial model used to build and rehabilitate
roads and develop a priority list for road development that
will include completing a North-South and East-West highway
by 2010. He hopes that both American and EU investors will
be interested in investing in Polish roads.

----------------------------
Roads are a top priority,...
----------------------------

2. (U) Ambassador noted that developing the road
infrastructure is critical to Poland's further economic
development. Some U.S. companies decided not to invest in
Poland because of the difficulties in transporting goods out
of the country. Polaczek replied that he had requested a
debate in the Sejm to discuss infrastructure. Responding to
the Ambassador's inquiry about the major obstacles to
building 4 lane highways, Polaczek stated that the law must
be corrected to use budgeted funds more speedily. Citing
2005 as a bad example, he also said that more EU funds should
be used. The new government believes that the existing
concession system for road building is not working, it's too
expensive and too time consuming and that new commercial
solutions should be found. He wants to increase Polish
budget resources as well as EU funds allocated to roadway
construction. He is considering new financial tools as well
as special purpose companies and task forces to speed
development.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
But so are telecom, air transport, housing, urban renewal
--------------------------------------------- ------------

3. (U) Polaczek noted that his other priorities as minister
are to work on changes in the telecommunications law,
continue participation in the EU-US air transport agreements,
and increase the number of housing units available throughout
Poland. Poland will not give up its public housing system
but he hopes to encourage commercial developers by proposing
a new construction law that will eradicate obstacles to
investment. He is also working on a program to work with
municipalities to invigorate community spaces, using an EU
program as a model. He added that 2006 will be a good year
for railroads in Poland, as investment in the system will
increase five-fold using resources from road taxes, fuel
taxes, loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and
bonds.


4. (U) Polaczek concluded by noting that he is interested
in more cooperation with U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Mineta. He added that he was in a meeting with Secretary
Mineta in 2004. He hopes to visit the U.S. in 2006 and would
like to meet with Secretary Mineta during his visit.

5. (SBU) Comment: Minister of Transport and Construction
Polaczek is faced with an enormous challenge that his
predecessors were unable to overcome - rebuilding Poland's
crumbling infrastructure with limited resources. To be
successful he will have to change existing laws that require
environmental impact studies for the entire voivoid when
undertaking any construction, change bureaucratic procedures
hindering usage of EU funds, convince local government
officials to work together, and develop new commercial and
financial vehicles that will attract investors. Polaczek is
a young PiS insider with a legal background and strong civil
service experience. We will watch his actions closely to
determine whether his new plans create opportunities for U.S.
companies or investors.
HILLAS

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