WARSAW, JAN. 8 -- Poland said today it will seek a new three-year credit agreement with the International Monetary Fund to support its free-market reforms and improve the chances of cutting its foreign debt.

Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, who has agreed to stay on in the new government of Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, said he would continue his "shock therapy" economic reforms and would rather resign than change direction.

"I hope very quickly it will be clear that the fundamental elements of the program will be continued, and then we will have a chance for quick negotiations {with the IMF} on a three-year adjustment program," Balcerowicz said.

Poland last year launched an austerity program backed by $715 million in credit from the IMF and a $1 billion "stabilization loan" from Western nations.

Balcerowicz said the new reforms should be broader than the previous one and would put "special emphasis on changes in the economic structure." He gave no further details.

He said continued IMF approval was "indispensable" as a step toward persuading Western governments to forgive chunks of Poland's $45.2 billion foreign debt, 80 percent of which is owed to the informal Paris Club of creditors nations.

Poland has long argued that steep cuts in its debt are vital to keeping the reforms on track.

Balcerowicz made the comments in answering questions from a parliamentary commission following his nomination by Bielecki. The lower chamber of parliament will vote on the nomination Friday.

"I wouldn't agree to take this or any other job if I was not convinced that there are chances to realize the program which I believe is right... . If things turned out to the contrary, I would draw the conclusions, I would simply resign," he said.

The Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper today quoted Poland's chief debt negotiator, Janusz Sawicki, as saying the country's creditors appeared ready to write off a portion of its debt, but how much remained undetermined.