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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Now showing 1 - 10 of 27
  • Publication
    Capital Expenditures : Making Public Investment Work for Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth in Moldova
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-06) Coulibaly, Karen Stephanie; Diagne, Mame Fatou
    Moldova faces the challenge of meeting considerable public investment needs while preserving fiscal sustainability. With a rapidly aging population, high emigration, structural imbalances, and vulnerability to external shocks, Moldova will need to raise investment, productivity, and exports in order to achieve sustained growth and competitiveness. The World Bank's recently published Moldova public expenditure review (PER) focuses on capital expenditures and recommends reforms in public investment management and sector policies to raise cost effectiveness and allocative efficiency. Analyses for the PER were conducted using the BOOST public expenditure database developed by the World Bank. It provides recommendations for improving effectiveness and to enhance Moldova's competitiveness and achieve sustained inclusive economic growth.
  • Publication
    Empowering Communities : The Local Initiatives Support Program in Russia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-06) Shulga, Ivan; Sukhova, Anna; Khachatryan, Gagik
    Prosperity from economic growth is not shared evenly among Russia's population and regions. Local communities and rural territories face serious development challenges: including poor living conditions, infrastructure, and services and lack of citizens' participation in decision-making processes. The Russian Federation Local Initiatives Support Program (RF LISP) aims to address community challenges by introducing a participatory approach to the development and rehabilitation of local-level social infrastructure. Specifically, LISP channels funds from regional budgets to finance participatory projects in poorer local communities. For the period 2009-14, LISP has been implemented in six regions and has resulted in more than 1,200 projects with over 1 million beneficiaries. Key factors for LISP success are the following: (i) mainstreaming of LISP into the national administrative system and budget process, and (ii) providing the Bank's technical assistance at all stages of project implementation to share international experience in community-driven development (CDD) projects, and ensuring transparency and quality of LISP procedures.
  • Publication
    A New Model for Job Creation in Armenia: Promoting More Effective Accumulation, Competition, and Connectivity
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-11) Bartsch, Ulrich
    In Armenia, more effective accumulation, together with greater competition and better connectivity with the rest of the world, will increase pressures on firms to compete and innovate and will thus reinvigorate job creation. In order to more effectively channel savings into investment in those industrial sectors with the best potential for growth and employment creation, a more sophisticated financial system is required. A recently released World Bank report1 finds that Armenias State Commission for the Protection of Competition (SCPEC) needs to be given better tools to carry out its work, and it also needs to shift its focus from price levels to more vigorously pursuing anticompetitive conduct. A liberalization of aviation would boost growth and job creation by better connecting people, ideas, and markets.
  • Publication
    Employment Recovery Stalls in Europe and Central Asia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-04) Koettl, Johannes; Saiovici, Gady; Santos, Indhira
    Employment recovery stalls in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to recover in most ECA countries, but the recovery remains fragile. Growth prospects remain poor in a number of countries where GDP continues to decline. This slowdown in the economic recovery is also evident at the sub-regional level. Unemployment has stabilized, with an average unemployment rate of 12 percent across the ECA region. Since the start of the crisis, men have been disproportionally hit by unemployment. The recent pace of job creation has not been sufficient to absorb the large pool of unemployed, resulting in growing long-term unemployment. Despite the rise in long-term unemployment, activity rates have increased or remained constant in most countries since 2008. ECA labor markets adjusted to the crisis not only through higher unemployment, but also through fewer work hours. Given the already low levels of employment in the region and a bleak demographic outlook, avoiding labor market detachment among the long-term unemployed, the inactive, and youth is the main challenge for policy makers in the near term.
  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    Serbia Country Economic Memorandum : Productivity and Exports
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-01) Sestovic, Lazar; Miovic, Peter
    In order to have both dynamic and better balanced growth, Serbia needs to rely more on exports. In the last decade, Serbia's growth has depended primarily on demand that was fueled by excessive debt finance. In the future, the Serbian economy would be better served by increasing its reliance on exports as a new, potentially powerful source of growth. Serbia's export share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is currently 25 percent, but that figure should be closer to 50-75 percent, considering that all European Union (EU) comparator countries1 have export shares of GDP of 60-80 percent. Some sectors of the economy are already better positioned than others to export. For example, sectors in the traditional export base of Serbia, such as food and some chemical products still have vast potential for growth. Agriculture is widely considered to have significant potential for improvement. Although Serbia has recently become a net food exporter, these exports could be substantially higher. The Serbian government's number one task is to accelerate reforms to create an environment that is highly conducive to export-led growth. Serbia will need to fundamentally alter its growth model in order to compete effectively in world markets. The past model of relying on excessive inflows of capital and credit coupled with a consumption boom has run its course in all European countries, including Serbia.
  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    Cities as Drivers of Growth along the Silk Road
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-01) Coulibaly, Souleymane
    Major events have reshaped the internal population flows of Eurasia, including the breakup of the Soviet Union, the development of market economies, and the rising influence of regional powers. Looking ahead, policy makers need to promote reforms to make Eurasian cities the main drivers of growth. This can be done by rethinking strategies to better plan, connect, and green the region s important urban centers. Improved planning means promoting policies to develop land and housing markets and enhance public service delivery. Greening Eurasian cities refers to ensuring their sustainable development through strong markets and institutions that encourage the efficient use of resources, address pollution, and build livable cities. To appropriately fund these needed changes, subnational finances will have to be reformed and new ways to finance cross-country connectivity explored.
  • Publication
    Active Labor Market Programs : How, Why, When, and To What Extent are they Effective?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Brown, Alessio J.G.; Koettl, Johannes
    Active labor market programs (ALMPs) aim to keep workers employed, bring them into employment, increase their productivity and earnings, and improve the functioning of labor markets. ALMPs to retain employment, for example, work-sharing schemes, should be used only for short periods during severe recessions. More cost-effective and useful during recoveries are ALMPs to create employment, which strengthen outsiders labor market attachment and support the outflow out of unemployment. Training programs are especially effective over the long term, particularly the more they target disadvantaged outsiders. ALMPs that improve labor market matching are highly beneficial, but effective only in the short run. ALMPs in general might be more cost effective over the long term (3-10 years) and some may even be self-financing, suggesting that long-term evaluations are needed to better ascertain the impact of individual policies.
  • Publication
    Accountability in State Noncommercial Organizations in Armenia : An Approach
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-09) Vatyan, Arman
    A World Bank-supported project in Armenia was successful in developing a control framework that balances the need to increase the transparency and accountability of the country s state noncommercial organizations (SNCOs), while also recognizing their financial, administrative, and managerial independence. An innovative approach involving the use of earlier results to guide later ones was used to address the dire need for SNCOs, which account for 70 percent of the total number of state organizations, to make greater efforts to responsibly administer and safeguard the government s assets. The aim was to reduce the market distortions caused by SNCOs that are engaged in significant commercial activities by addressing SNCOs heterogeneity and the need for specific fiduciary control requirements for distinct groups.