EU says foreign lotteries in Poland have been unfairly taxed

Foreign lotteries in Poland have been unfairly taxed, the European Commission said Thursday.
The European Union head office has given Poland official notice asking it to stop taxing the winnings from foreign lotteries higher than that of winnings from Polish lotteries, calling the practice "discriminatory taxation."
"Member states are free to set their own rules on betting and gambling," European Taxation Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs said. "But the (EU) Treaty requires that these rules are applied in the same way to domestic and foreign lotteries."
Winnings from lotteries in other member states have been taxed from 19 percent to 40 percent, while Polish lottery winnings are taxed either at a flat rate of 10 percent, or not taxed at all.
Discriminatory taxation of foreign lottery winnings goes against EU law that ensures the freedom to provide services throughout each country of the 25-member bloc.
The Commission said it could take Poland before the European Court of Justice if it did not comply within the next two months.
Source:International Herald Tribune, iht.com

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Poland importing far more than it exports

Poland’s foreign trade deficit almost reached 6.9 billion Euros for eight months of 2006, says the Main Office of Statistics. Poland has been importing far more than it exports, especially from developing countries as well as Central and Eastern Europe.

The situation is reverse in respect of developed countries. Poland recorded most dynamic turnover in exports to Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, France and Britain, and in imports – to Russia and China.

Source: polskieradio.pl

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Poland "somewhat concerned" over German-Russian gas accord: FM

Poland is "somewhat concerned" over the agreement reached between Germany and Russia on energy supplies, Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said Wednesday.

The foreign minister's comment followed Tuesday's gas talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during which Putin offered extra supplies of 50-55 billion cubic meters of gas to Germany.

"This is an accord between two strong partners, both of whom neighbor on Poland. Potentially it may disrupt the existing rules of cooperation within the EU," Fotyga was quoted by the Polish News Agency as saying.

She added that Poland was "monitoring" energy talks between Germany and Russia.

Source: english.people.com.cn

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Toshiba to buy Poland plant stake for Y5.5bn

LG Philips LCD, the world's second-largest flat-screen maker, is selling a 19.9 per cent stake in its Polish plant to Japan's Toshiba for Y5.5bn ($46m) in the latest sign that Asian manufacturers are positioning themselves to exploit a booming European market for liquid crystal display TVs.

But the deal's announcement came as the South Korean company reported a second consecutive quarterly loss due to lower panel prices and presented a gloomy outlook ahead amid fears of a looming price war.

The strategic alliance is expected to benefit LG Philips by broadening its customer base while helping Toshiba secure a stable panel supply to expand its business in the fast-growing European flat-screen TV market.

LG Philips � a joint venture between Korea's LG and Philips of the Netherlands � is building an LCD module line with annual production capacity of 3m units in Wroclaw in Poland, which will be completed by the first quarter of 2007.

The company, like other flat-screen manufacturers, is trying to find new growth momentum in the European market by building a production base closer to the booming market.

Toshiba is also building a separate LCD TV plant in Poland while Sony is looking to build a new assembly plant in Slovakia and Sharp is set to launch an assembly line in Spain in January.

According to DisplaySearch, a market researcher, Europe accounted for 41 per cent of the global LCD TV market last year.

It forecasts the European market will grow 35.4 per cent this year and expand more than threefold by 2009.

LG Philips on Tuesday reported a net loss of Won321bn ($333m) in the third quarter following a Won321.5bn loss in the previous quarter and a Won227bn profit a year ago. However, sales increased 1.2 per cent on year to Won2,773bn.

LG Philips's average selling prices fell 11 per cent in the three months to September from a year earlier.

The company expected shipments to increase by a mid-20s percentage in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter but those average selling prices are forecast to decline.

Such price pressures have become increasingly common in the flat-screen market as manufacturers ramp up production.


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Rosukrenergo denies gas cutoff to Poland

Natural gas trader Rosukrenergo denied media allegations Wednesday of a cutoff in supplies to Poland, citing a brief technical problem.

Polish media reported that the company, which handles Russian and Central Asian natural gas and is 50% owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom, interrupted gas supplies to Poland from October 2.

"Reports of an interruption in gas deliveries do not correspond to reality. It was a technical problem related to the registration of deliveries on the Ukrainian-Polish border," the company said.

A company representative said the problem has almost been resolved.

"This will not affect our compliance with commitments under contracts with the Polish [oil and gas] company PGNiG," the source said.

Source: RIA Novosti, en.rian.ru

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Potato production in Poland decreased 14% in 2006

According to the information of eBronisze.pl, potato production decreased 14% in Poland in 2006, according to official records. This year harvest is only around 9 mln. tons - it has turned out to be the lowest harvest of this crop for several recent years.

The main reason for potato production decrease in Poland is bad weather which declined potato yield. As a result, at the present moment an average price for this commodity 40% exceeds the price recorded at the same period of time in 2005 on Polish market.

According to the forecast of the Agricultural Marketing Project, Ukraine will be one of a few countries in the region, where potato production in 2006 can increase 5-8% comparing to 2005, according to the preliminary estimations. However, despite of the decreasing average potato prices on market, observed at the present moment, the price for this commodity remains relatively high. Now the price for potato in Ukraine 40-50% exceeds the price for this commodity in Poland.

The final potato price forecast in season 2006/07 will be presented by the analysts during the third international conference "Fruits and Vegetables of Ukraine 2006. Open Market".


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Poland ready to join EU security force

Poland's Defense minister says his country will offer a 130-person paramilitary company to join the European Gendarmerie security force, a radio report said.

Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has sent letters to the ministers of the five EU countries -- France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain -- that make up the "quick response" security units, Radio Polonia said Tuesday.

If sent on a mission, Poland's paramilitary police company will be kept in combat readiness for 30 days.

Details about Poland's participation in the gendarmerie force will be discussed in Warsaw in November, the radio report said.
Source:United Press International, upi.com

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Vivendi files criminal complaint in Poland vs Deutsche Telekom-Elektrim deal

Vivendi said it has filed a criminal complaint with the Polish prosecutor''s office in order to block Elektrim, which is in bankruptcy proceedings, from selling a 48 pct stake in mobile phone operator Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC) which Vivendi considers its own to Deutsche Telekom.
Calling the sale a "blatant defiance of Polish laws," Vivendi said Elektrim and Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, in cooperation with Deutsche Telekom, "conducted in secrecy illegal negotiations with certain creditors of Elektrim in order to permit Deutsche Telekom to exercise a call option over the PTC shares."
Elektrim said recently that Deutsche Telekom, which already owns 49 pct of PTC, would pay it more than 604 mln eur for the stake.
Vivendi said the deal represented illegal preferential treatment of one group of Elektrim creditors by another.

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Snacking picks up pace in Poland

As Poland’s economy develops and consumers embrace Western European eating habits, snacking appears to be on the increase. Francisco Redruello of Euromonitor International looks at the changing face of the Polish snacks market and current sales patterns across the different categories.

As has been seen in other developing Eastern European markets, snacking is becoming increasingly popular in Poland, according to Euromonitor International’s latest research. Euromonitor International attributes the growing snacking trend to economic growth and modernisation, as well as the progressive adoption of Western consumer patterns, particularly within large cities.

Snack products in Poland comprise items such as ice cream, chips/crisps, bread sticks, chocolate bars, snack bars and fruit (in particular apples and grapes).

Chips and crisps are the most important category in value terms, with retail sales reaching an estimated US$630m in 2005, according to Euromonitor International data. Chocolate bars are also an important category, with sales worth US$294m in 2005, up by 18% on the previous year. Sales of snack bars still remain close to negligible, at around US$1m in 2005, but consumption is expanding rapidly among the middle and upper classes in urban areas.

Since 1998, sales of crisps and chips have benefited from a trend towards fast-paced lifestyles. A 90g bag of Lay’s crisps retails for around PLN2.69 (US$0.86), while a 135g bag of Paluszki 135g bread sticks costs around PLN1.15. However, growth has recently been constrained by increasing health awareness amongst Polish consumers.

Breakfast bars, often viewed as a healthier option, account for most sales of snack bars, followed by sesame seed snacks. Sesame seed snacks, which are made from sesame seeds and glucose syrup, have been present in Poland for decades, although their sales have never reached a significant level. A Corny 25g snack bar costs around PLN0.99 in most Polish outlets.

Chocolate bars are very popular with Polish consumers as they are widely available in a variety of independent food stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, with a wide range of brands in every outlet. Prices are generally low and affordable to a large proportion of the population. Locally manufactured countline brand Prince Polo retails for around PLN0.74 (40g pack size), similar to Masterfoods’ Snickers, which retails for around PLN0.94 (57g size). Milka’s 100g chocolate tablet pack is sold in supermarkets for around PLN2.44.

Growth rates in major snack categories have increased sharply in Poland over the past year or so, according to Euromonitor International’s research. While ice cream had shown a decline in 2003/2004, the category grew by around 25% in value terms in 2004/2005. Snack bar sales, albeit from a low base, grew by over 45% in 2004/2005, while chips and crisps sales rose by around 16% in 2004/2005, having shown growth in low single-digits in both 2002/2003 and 2003/2004.

Snacking on the go is becoming more common in Poland, particularly on the way to work. Polish consumers are increasingly buying sweet pastries and cakes in independent bakeries and small supermarkets, or countlines in street kiosks. Alternatively, they might buy snacks immediately after work on their way home.

However, research from Euromonitor International has identified that the Polish are not ‘social snackers’, rarely snacking in bars and restaurants. It is more common among Polish consumers to go home, have dinner and then go to a club or a bar.

Poles tend to snack at home, particularly during weekends and while watching television or during social occasions with friends and family. Shopping for these occasions is usually planned and therefore generally carried out in small and medium-sized supermarkets, hypermarkets and local bakeries.

In terms of gender segmentation, Polish women tend to snack more often than men. Furthermore, Polish housewives decide which brands to buy when they go to supermarkets or independent stores for their daily/weekly shopping, and hence play an important role in deciding which snacks are to be purchased for the entire family.

A notable emerging trend is the increasing popularity of hot soup consumed as a snack, particularly during working hours. Knorr instant soup is a key brand benefiting from this trend. The product comes in a single-serving sachet, in powdered form, to which hot water is added.

Snack sales through kiosks in railway stations have also grown over recent years, according to Euromonitor’s research. These outlets have a licence to stay open 24 hours a day, offering convenience to busy travellers. Small-sized supermarkets situated close to university campuses are also emerging as important outlets for snack brands, with these outlets proving popular among Polish students, who visit them between classes to buy their snacks.

The purchasing of snacks in large-sized supermarkets and hypermarkets, on the other hand, takes place mainly in urban areas, and is usually planned rather than being on impulse. A notable development is the expansion of chocolate-themed areas within department stores and hypermarkets, mainly featuring premium chocolate confectionery which may be purchased for later consumption as a snack at home.

Source: just-food.com

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Poland to hold referendum on euro-zone accession in 2010: president

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said Poland would hold a referendum in 2010 on whether to join the 12-member euro zone, Polish media reported on Monday.

Poland was not yet ready to join the organization as the euro was still in an experimental phase, Kaczynski was quoted as saying.

A referendum was necessary because access to the euro area might hurt the nation's sovereignty, the president added. Kaczynski will end his term as president in 2010.

Among the 10 new EU nations, Poland is the only one which has not set up a schedule for when to join the euro zone.

Poland is afraid that entry to the euro zone might lead to a weakening of its economic growth once it loses its independent currency.

Source: Xinhua

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Wizz Air

Wizz Air has announced new routes to Katowice (Poland) from Belfast, Bournemouth and Coventry, beginning next summer.

The new routes will all operate three times weekly, with the Belfast flights beginning on May 29, the Bournemouth flights on July 14 and the Coventry flights on July 28.

Together with new routes from Katowice to Eindhoven, Bourgas and Crete, the three UK links will lead to a 50 per cent increase in capacity at Katowice International Airport, compared to this year.

The flights are available for booking at Wizz Air's website now and the airline is currently offering seats on these new routes for "free" (with a maximum of £20 to be paid in taxes and charges).

Wizz Air chief Jozsef Varadi called the expansion "a strategic next step" in the airline's growth plan.

Flight details:
Bournemouth to Katowice
Departs 1.45pm, arrives 5pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Katowice to Bournemouth
Departs 11.45am, arrives 1.15pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Coventry to Katowice
Departs 1.40pm, arrives 5.05pm (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

Katowice to Coventry
Departs 11.45am, arrives 1.10pm (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)

The Belfast timetable changes from week to week.

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APN/UKA settles Poland buy

APN/UKA European Retail Trust has settled on the purchase of the Manhattan Shopping Centre in Gdansk, Poland.

The trust bought the center in September for €57.5 million along with another asset, the City Mall Shopping Centre in Bucharest, Romania for € 103.5 million.
APN Property Group’s managing director Clive Appleton told PropertyReview.com.au the trust has chosen to build on an Eastern Europe platform because the region has the strongest economic growth prospects in Europe.
The Manhattan Shopping Centre comprises 21,000 sqm and is anchored by Albert Supermarket.
Gdansk is the sixth largest city in Poland with a population of 500,000. Poland has a population of 38 million and is the largest economy in Central Europe.

Source: By Adam Parsons, propertyreview.com.au

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Thousands in rival rallies over Polish crisis

About 20,000 Poles took part in rival demonstrations in the capital on Saturday over whether the ruling conservatives, who are struggling to form a coalition, should call a snap election.

Supporters of the biggest opposition party, the centre-right Civic Platform, called on the government to dissolve parliament. The conservatives ditched their leftist coalition partners last month in a row over the 2007 budget and a decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

"We are here to say loud what Poland feels ... We are here to say it is enough," Donald Tusk, the leader of the Civic Platform, told a crowd of more than 11,000 people.

"We want early elections now," their banners read.

Opinion polls show more than 60 percent of Poles believe elections should be held and, according to most surveys, the Civic Platform would win.

At a rival rally, about 8,000 supporters of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech Kaczynski, the president, held banners reading "Solidarity in Poland".

Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the crowd: "Poland is right here with us and the future of Poland is with us. The government has to stay to build a better Poland even though those who are lying may not like it."

Kaczynski is also under pressure after his top aide was caught on film asking an opposition MP what she wanted in return for switching sides, hinting at possible financial arrangements.
I am here because I really believe that Poland has to get out of this mud ... What I saw on the secret film really shocked me," Wincenty Heinrich, a Civic Platform supporter, said.

"That is not what they promised people ... We should end this and stop losing time."

Police said that unlike in fellow EU-member Hungary, where anti-government protests last month in Budapest turned violent, the Warsaw demonstrations were peaceful.

Law and Justice came to power in September 2005 on a promise to weed out corruption and instigate a "moral revolution" after scandals during the previous leftist rule. But its alliance with two populist fringe parties has disappointed many Poles.

The leftist Self-Defence party quit the coalition last month and the conservatives have failed to form a new majority. Local elections are due in November.

Analysts believe the political deadlock could prevent Poland, the biggest ex-communist European Union member, from pushing through economic reforms that are crucial if it is to catch up with richer western EU countries.

In Hungary, anti-government protests dwindled on Saturday with just a few thousand people gathered outside parliament, despite calls from the main Fidesz opposition to keep vigil.

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, whose admission he lied about the economy triggered three weeks of demonstrations, won a confidence vote in parliament on Friday with a majority of 42, more than enough to stay in power and implement plans to slash Hungary's huge budget deficit

Source: today.reuters.com

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