Poles say West refuses to extend crucial credits
Warsaw — Vice-Premier Zbigniew Madej, chairman of Poland's planning commission, says it will be impossible for Poland to repay its Western debts without further rescheduling, and he accuses creditor governments of refusing to negotiate.
Some Western countries, he said here May 27, were exerting ''political pressures'' to obstruct the country's efforts to regain the traditional coal export markets it lost because of last year's drastic decline in production.
He called it a form of economic sanction designed to hinder Polish recovery and a reasonable settlement of the debt issue. ''Sometimes,'' he said, ''one has the impression the other side is not interested in getting its money back.''
These are familiar themes here just now. So are attacks labeling Western news media and their representatives here as ''partners'' with Western governments in a political campaign calculated to make Poland's uphill climb to stability more difficult.
Official attitudes here are increasingly sensitive to almost any critical comment. The authorities seem unable to acknowledge that Western reserve about the debt situation or about Polish expectations of fresh credits to stimulate export industries might have some ligitimacy. Many see such credits as essential to Poland ever being able to repay its debts.
The result is a deep political uncertainty that seems to be increasing rather than diminishing, even though the country emerged relatively ''safely'' from the winter.
The problem appears to rooted in martial law itself. The military government has yet to set out a program for achieving the goals the authorities professed when martial law was imposed last December.
Martial law has brought a measure of social ''peace, order, and discipline'' - as Mr. Madej asserted. There is stability in the marketplace and many, but by no means all, of the basic consumer goods Poles had not had for several years are available.
Subject to their financial resources, Poles are assured of meat and other rationed items. They no longer need to queue for food, at least not very often.
But another side of the picture was presented to parliament Wednesday: Prices have risen by 40 to 250 percent this year, family incomes by only 50 percent. The net effect is a 23 percent drop in real incomes.
Many Poles feel that longer-term perspectives are lacking. There is a sense that the government either is less serious about implementing economic reform or is still unable to overcome political opposition or the built-in interests that keep it from getting under way.
In industry, only coal and other mining sectors offer hope. Coal output, up 15 percent on 1981, is running at more than 15 million tons a month. But that improvement depends on inducements to miners that the country cannot not afford for industry as a whole.
The country might produce 180 million tons of coal this year - enough to resume significant exports. It is this renewed export potential that explains the sudden anti-Western bitterness about lost markets.
Until recently, the authorities admitted that last year's defaults - to East-bloc customers as well as Western Europe - had not resulted in American and other exporters attracting former Polish customers. Now, in a move obviously designed primarily for domestic consumption, that switch is portrayed as part of a Western plan to obstruct recovery.
Agriculture is looking up. Private farmers, at last getting coal, cement, and better prices, are selling the state more grain than they might have done otherwise.
The harvest could reach 20 million tons this year, but even that would leave a shortfall of at least 5 million tons.
Virtually all this must be made up in hard-currency imports. France and Canada, which stood aside from grain sanctions, are expected to negotiate new agreements. But the bulk would normally come from the US.
Right now, however, any change or modification of the official US attitude in this area is extremely unlikely without some convincingly tangible Polish move toward meeting the original ''conditions'' laid down by the Reagan aministration.
Yet, without some renewal of this kind of Western support - including imports needed either to finish plants based on Western technology or to keep such plants in operation - it is hard to see how the economic recovery can be gotten under way.