Warsaw (Dec. 27)
Fruit importers and traders in Poland, the great majority of whom are Jews, are in a state of excitement over a report that the Government intends to monopolise this branch of trading, the Yiddish daily “Najer Hajnt” writes, and if this is true, it says, tens of thousands of Jewish traders who are now engaged in this branch of enterprise, will be displaced.
The report has appeared in a number of Polish papers, the “Hajnt” says, and has been denied, but in spite of the denial there is some truth in it. For a number of reasons connected with the general economic situation, it explains, the Government is conducting its import policy in such a way that there should be an equivalent in exports for everything that is imported. Oranges, lemons, and bananas would be imported freely to the amount for which Polish goods would be exported in return. Faced with this situation, the fruit importers were engaged in an effort to establish an export co-operative to take the matter in hand. At this point, however, a British firm came on the scene with a proposal to take over the entire import of fruit and to arrange for the export of Polish crops to Britain in return. The monopoly would be disguised by the Government introducing three categories of customs payments on fruit – 300 zlotys, 200 zlotys and 100 zlotys per hundred kilos, and the British firm in question alone would be charged at the lowest rate, so that it will be impossible for any other concerns to compete with it.
The scandal is the greater, the “Hajnt” says, because the chairman of the Fruit-Trade Section of the Jewish Merchants’ Federation, Mr. Silbergleit, is engaged in the negotiations in association with the British firm, and the other merchants consider that he has betrayed their interests, creating a situation in which tens of thousands of Jewish and other merchants are in danger of losing their livelihoods.
The Jewish Merchants’ Federation, it continues, is, of course, opposed to the whole business, but it has not been able to influence the President of the Fruit Trade Section to change his attitude and the demand is now made that he should resign his office.
The non-Jewish merchants in the trade, the paper adds, are solid with the Jewish merchants in this matter, endeavouring to find a way out of the danger which is threatening their common interests.
In the “Moment” Mr. Stupnicki publishes an article headed “Is there to be a new Monopoly?”.
There has been a lot of talk of late about a new monopoly being created in the fruit import industry, he writes, and as usual the report has been denied. It does seem, however, in spite of the denial, that there is a foundation of truth in the report, and that the Ministry of Finance has already completed a project for establishing a monopoly in foreign fruit, giving the monopoly to a foreign concern which will build the necessary storehouses in the Polish port of Gdynia. The monopoly would be exercised by giving this firm the privilege of importing fruit at a smaller rate of duty, while other importers would have to pay double and treble the amount of duty.
The outlook is an alarming one, Mr. Stupnicki concludes, because people are not at all certain that the monopoly is going to stop at the fruit trade. The impression is rather that the fruit trade monopoly is only to be a first move towards a general monopolisation of trading as a whole.