Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents


Banking and Finance

In the reform programs of the early 1990s, major restructuring of Poland's financial infrastructure was a top priority in order to achieve more efficient movement of money through the domestic economy and to provide a secure environment for the foreign investment that was expected to carry Poland through its postcommunist economic slump.

The State Banking System

A highly concentrated state banking monopoly was a typical feature of East European economies in the communist period. In Poland the monopoly was composed of the National Bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski--NBP), which had replaced the prewar Western-style Bank of Poland in 1945; the Commercial Bank (Bank Handlowy--BH), which had a monopoly in financing foreign trade; the Polish Savings Office, which controlled transactions with private international transfers; and about 1,600 small regional and specialized cooperative banks that jointly formed the Bank of Food Economy. To encourage private savings, a specialized savings bank, the General Savings Office, was established in 1987 by detaching designated departments from the NBP. In 1988 nine state-owned commercial banks were formed from regional branches of the NBP, and a state Export Development Bank was established.

Legislation was introduced in 1989 to allow private individuals, both Poles and foreigners, to form banks as limited stock companies. Between 1989 and 1991, a total of seventy licenses was issued to private banks, including seven banks funded by foreign capital, two cooperative banks, and three branches of foreign banks. In October 1991, privatization of the Export Development Bank began, and the nine state commercial banks (which until that time still operated as they had under the old NBP) were transformed into limited stock companies. The State Treasury owned and operated the banks for an intermediate period while they prepared for privatization.

Data as of October 1992