Europe and Central Asia Knowledge Brief

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This is a regular series of notes highlighting recent analyses, good practices, and lessons learned from the development work program of the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region.

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    Croatia : A Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-02) Madzarevic-Sujster, Sanja
    Croatia`s current economic challenges include sluggish growth, excessive public spending, high unemployment, and a deteriorating external environment. Croatian economy was making a fragile recovery and dealing with slow export growth, low investment, and persistent unemployment. At the end of 2011, Croatia gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (in purchasing power terms) declined to 61 percent average, a loss of 2 percentage points since 2008.The country incomplete structural reform agenda needs attention and action to promote greater competitiveness and a shift to productivity-based, private sector-led growth. It also faces the strategic challenge of maximizing the benefits of European Union (EU) membership, especially in terms of access to markets and the use of EU structural funds, requiring structural changes in the social sectors, education system, and business environment. Accelerating economic recovery requires Croatia to complete its currently unfinished structural reform agenda and shift to productivity-based, private sector-led growth. The government could also do more to: (i) reform product market regulation; (ii) remove administrative barriers to investments; (iii) reduce the logistics costs in trade; (iv) make the bankruptcy process more efficient; and (v) modernize contract enforcement and property rights.
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    FYR Macedonia Policy-Based Guarantee : Supporting the Development Agenda and Strengthening Access to Capital Markets
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-01) Najdov, Evgenij
    The ongoing global economic turmoil is seriously impeding client countries access to capital markets, with relatively little regard for the fundamentals of the countries involved. Growing risk aversion among investors has triggered a flight-to-quality that is affecting all but the safest assets (AAA-rated). Small, open, and developing economies in Europe and Central Asia, including FYR Macedonia, are being exceptionally hurt. Despite its history of prudent macroeconomic policies and progress on structural reforms, FYR Macedonia s access to capital markets has been virtually closed or available only on very unfavorable terms. Policy-Based Guarantees (PBG) help well-performing clients with a track record of macro stability and structural reforms mitigate market access risks while advancing a country s development policy dialogue. PBGs also have the added benefit of catalyzing private capital flows by alleviating critical risks. The PBG extended by the World Bank to FYR Macedonia ensured the country s access to markets in a virtually closed market environment and at highly competitive terms.
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    Reforming Corporate Financial Reporting : Lessons from REPARIS for Other Technical Assistance Programs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Owen, James ; Sekiguchi, Juri
    The recent financial crisis brought to light the importance of transparent and effective corporate financial reporting to a country s economic recovery and subsequent growth. The Road to Europe: Program of Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening (REPARIS) program, supported with technical assistance from the World Bank, was designed to assist its eight participating member countries in improving their institutional frameworks for corporate financial reporting and fostering the adoption of European Union (EU) standards for business reporting and auditing. This program has been used to build the kind of broad stakeholder support, both public and private, that is vital for the successful implementation of financial reporting reforms. The emphasis on peer learning, through such tools as communities of practice, helps promote the effective implementation of reforms. In-country engagement is also critical to ensure that changes are implemented on the ground.
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    Fiscal Consolidation and Recovery in Armenia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-02) Coulibaly, Souleymane
    Armenia's strong economic growth from 2001-2008, when real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 12.6 percent per year on average, boosted living standards and created the fiscal headroom necessary for the Government to respond to the 2009 financial crisis with a large fiscal stimulus. As a result, the fiscal deficit reached 7.6 percent in 2009 and helped limit the contraction in real GDP to 14 percent. With the economy growing again, the stimulus has to be gradually withdrawn. However, the retrenchment will need to be designed carefully to limit negative impact on growth. Improving the efficiency of all aspects of public finances - tax policy, tax administration, and public expenditures - will be crucial to the planned fiscal adjustment. With the ratio of tax revenues to GDP lower than that of comparator countries with similar levels of income per capita, the brunt of the fiscal consolidation should be borne by an increase in tax revenues (the lower bound estimated to be between 2.3 and 5.8 percent of GDP).