Issues in East-West
The Case of Poland
Richard A. Liroff
Debt-for-nature swaps may shift direction in the future, as existing North-South swaps are joined by East-West swaps. Poland may be the first Eastern bloc country where a swap is executed.The Western partner for such a swap remains uncertain, although Sweden, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States have shown interest.Some of the institutional, programmatic, and financial issues that must be addressed in the context of a debt swap for Poland are examined below. Key questions involve what will be funded, who will be the Polish partner, and at what exchange rate a swap will take place. The sweeping political changes presently occurring in Poland, and the fundamental economic restructuring that must occur, heighten the uncertainty surrounding a swap.
The environmental situation in Poland is bleak. As summarized in The Washington Post:
In Poland, regions covering ... 11 percent of the country's land area and including one-third of the national population were declared environmentally endangered by a comprehensive study by the National Academy of Science.... Six million people were said to be living in "environmental disaster areas." ... Half of the country's total forest area is threatened by air pollution.
Ninety-five percent of the river water in Poland is now unfit for drinking, half of the lakes have been irreversibly contaminated, and more than three-quarters of drinking water sources do not meet official standards of purity, according to Polish scientists. Warsaw and Tirana, Albania, are the only capital cities in Europe that do not treat their