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Poland to Trim Price Hikes, Premier Says

December 06, 1987|CHARLES T. POWERS | Times Staff Writer

WARSAW — Premier Zbigniew Messner said Saturday that planned price increases in Poland for the coming year will be scaled down after being rejected in last week's national referendum.

"The government now has to alleviate the sharpness of the (economic) reform program," Messner told a meeting of Parliament.

The planned price increases, which would have been as high as 110% for staple food items and as much as 200% for fuel and housing costs, were the central part of a major economic reform plan aimed at reducing government subsidies and bringing prices more in line with the law of supply and demand.

Messner said that the hikes on food items will be spread over the next three years but that the increases in fuel and rent prices will be implemented in 1988.

Messner said that meat rationing--which the government uses to assure low-cost meat supplies to the population--will continue through the next year even though "this will have a bad effect on efforts to increase production of meat."

Efforts Will Continue

The government's efforts to let prices reach a realistic level, Messner said, will continue.

"All citizens should know what things cost and why and understand the real value of work," he said.

Messner said that costs for fuel, energy and transportation will rise, but he did not indicate by how much.

In submitting its original economic reform package to voters, the government got a majority of the votes cast but not a majority of the entire electorate, which was required for passage.

Those who voted against the measure, Messner said, "were the economically weakest groups" in the country. He said that "one should understand their hesitations and fears."

Messner called the holding of the referendum "an act of unprecedented significance" and "a practical proof of democracy" in Poland.

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