World Bank Country Studies

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Country Studies are published with approval of the subject government to communicate the results of the Bank's work on the economic and related conditions of member countries to governments and to the development community. This series as been superseded by the World Bank Studies series.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 12
  • Publication
    Public Expenditure Review for Armenia
    (Washington, DC, 2003-08) World Bank
    This is the first full-scale World Bank Public Expenditure Review for Armenia, which reviews the main fiscal trends in the country for the period 1997-2001, and develops recommendations with respect to further fiscal adjustment, expenditure prioritization, and budget consolidation. The analysis focuses on core issues, i.e., sustainability of fiscal adjustment, fiscal transparency, expenditure priorities, and short-term expenditure management, given the existing economy-wide institutional constraints. The study covers extra-budgetary funds, in-kind external grants, subsidies provided by the state-owned companies in the energy, and utility sectors, and operations of the Social Insurance Fund, as well as regular spending. It suggests a medium-term action plan to address identified weaknesses. Sectoral chapters review health, education, and social protection and insurance. The study also analyzes budget support for core public infrastructure, and the country's public investment program.
  • Publication
    Bulgaria Public Expenditure Issues and Directions for Reform
    (Washington, DC, 2003-08) World Bank
    The study is the first-ever Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (PEIR) on Bulgaria by the World Bank. It outlines public expenditure issues, and policy directions to improve the efficiency, and effectiveness of public expenditures in the country. To this end, it assesses fiscal sustainability, and analyzes the public expenditures, and their institutional framework. Bulgaria has made substantial progress toward long-term macroeconomic stability, but important challenges remain in the five sectors analyzed - education, health, social protection, the state railways, and energy sectors. It also analyses the institutional challenges in public expenditure management.
  • Publication
    Slovak Republic--Joining the EU : A Development Policy Review
    (Washington, DC, 2003-06) World Bank
    The Slovak Republic's external current account and fiscal deficits (net of privatization receipts) are unsustainably high (at about 8 percent of GDP in 2002), despite some recent declines. With a capital account surplus of perhaps 20 percent of GDP this year, the Slovak Republic may not find it particularly difficult to finance these deficits, but this favorable situation will not last. Furthermore, through its impact on the real exchange rate, this policy mix is undermining the employability of large segments of the population (particularly those with low skill levels) and will ultimately choke growth (projected at 4 percent for 2002). While much policy attention has gone to stimulating investment, future growth will also depend on raising the employment rate, currently one of the lowest among the Central and East European Countries (CEECs). This report lays out the broad thrust of a policy strategy to bolster the recovery and bring the economy towards convergence with the EU. This strategy consists of three key elements: (a) Continued trade, finance, and enterprise reform to complete the structural transformation of the economy and align it with the EU framework (b) Fiscal consolidation, focusing on cutting back expenditure and stabilizing revenues, while redirecting revenue and expenditure policies to become more fully supportive of growth and employment objectives (c) Labor market reform, directed at enhancing labor market flexibility by relaxing legal provisions on working arrangements (such as part-time work, self-employment, and fixed term contracts), by decentralizing collective bargaining, and discarding the minimum wage as an instrument of incomes policy, and by reforming the social assistance system. The ultimate success of the policy reforms outlined in this report will depend to a great extent on the government's capacity to strengthen the institutional framework in which those policies are conceived, decided upon, and executed. Three priorities have been highlighted: (i) the reform of public expenditure management systems and practices needed to support a growth-oriented fiscal strategy; (ii) the consolidation of the recent decentralization moves as a prerequisite for further devolution, and (iii) a much overdue overhaul of the judiciary system.
  • Publication
    Non-bank Financial Institutions and Capital Markets in Turkey
    (Washington, DC, 2003-04) World Bank
    This study analyses the state of development, and prospects of future growth of Turkish non-bank financial institutions, and capital markets. Currently, credit markets in Turkey are dominated by banking, and capital markets are dominated by Government securities. Longstanding macro-economic instability, and inflation have discouraged investment in financial assets, and crowded out funding for the private sector. The resulting lack of depth, and breadth has made the financial sector vulnerable to shocks, resulting in repeated crises, and, has reduced its intermediation efficiency. To enhance the financial sector's capacity to support private sector development, and economic growth, and to reduce its vulnerability to shocks, non-bank sources of finance should be developed. The report identifies the key policy issues that should be addressed for this purpose. The discussion, and policy recommendations are structured around the following leading themes: a) mobilizing savings; b) building an institutional investor base, comprising insurance companies, private pension funds, and mutual funds; c) developing equity, debt, and derivative markets; d) developing leasing, factoring, and venture capital companies; and, e) strengthening confidence in financial markets through improved corporate governance, accounting and auditing standards, and practices, and, financial sector regulation, and supervision.
  • Publication
    Bulgaria : A Changing Poverty Profile
    (Washington, DC, 2002-10-29) World Bank
    Bulgaria's economic progress in recent years has been notable. Since 1997, the country has implemented a range of structural reforms alongside substantive fiscal and sectoral reforms. Measures have included the introduction of a currency board to stabilize the lev and more aggressive privatization of large state owned enterprises. These developments have led to a significant turnaround from the period of economic crisis in 1996-1997, which was marked by a decline in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 18 percent and annual inflation of 579 percent in 1997. Growth resumed in 1998 and has been sustained. Bulgaria's current government, which took office in July 2001, has affirmed its commitment to the objectives of macrostability, including a continuation of the currency board and market reforms. Poverty in 2001 has become more concentrated among distinct and identifiable groups within the population than in previous years. In this regard, the profile of poverty in Bulgaria has come to resemble poverty patterns in other countries in Central and Eastern European countries more closely. The strong link between unemployment and poverty, and the emergence of children and households in rural areas as high poverty risk groups, as well as ethnic minorities are features of poverty common to ED accession countries. While the concentration of poverty among specific groups indicates that targeting interventions to address poverty in Bulgaria will be easier, on the other hand, these pockets of chronic poverty are more resilient and harder to reach than shallower poverty linked to transient declines in incomes. These developments highlight the need for a long term commitment to poverty reduction in Bulgaria which will require continuity in policy, as well as on-going monitoring and evaluation.
  • Publication
    Regaining Fiscal Sustainability and Enhancing Effectiveness in Croatia : A Public Expenditure and Institutional Review
    (Washington, DC, 2002-03) World Bank
    The report presents the macroeconomic setting, and fiscal developments in the 1990s in Croatia, a country facing an unparalleled opportunity towards sustainable growth, and integration into the European Union. Nonetheless, the country needs to sustain macroeconomic stabilization, and improve the investment climate. To this effect, public sector reform needs to be oriented to diminish the size of the state, and reduce the fiscal deficit to sustain macroeconomic stability in the medium term. Yet, the scope for reducing the deficit through revenue increases is limited, even though a decrease in the tax burden would be highly desirable. This means that most of the adjustment will need to be made in public expenditures, particularly by identifying, and implementing policies that will reduce the level of expenditures, while improving their effectiveness; thus, budgetary management improvement will be critical to this effort. The report analysis indicates that the current budget in Croatia is not a comprehensive measure of all fiscal activity, namely that five extra-budgetary funds are not included in the budget; that off-budget revenues, outside of the extra-budgetary funds, still exist; that the cash budgeting system leads to the accumulation of arrears that do not appear in budget presentations; and, that laws outside of the budget law, lead to mandatory spending that falls outside of the budget process.
  • Publication
    Slovak Republic : Living Standards, Employment, and Labor Market Study
    (Washington, DC, 2002-02) World Bank
    By most indicators the Slovak Republic has achieved a high level of human and social development. Despite the country's generally high living standards and overall level of development, there are families in Slovakia whose living conditions are below what is considered to be socially acceptable. By societal standards, these families and individuals are poor. The objective of this study is to analyze this poverty, so as to help design measures and policies to reduce it. The study also seeks to understand the phenomenon of unemployment--the main cause of poverty-and propose actions to alleviate it. The report is organized as follows: After Chapter 1, which explains the background of poverty and inequality in the Slovak Republic, Chapter 2 addresses the challenge of generating employment, including rising unemployment and inactivity, job reallocation during transition, the importance of the regional and skills mismatch, and conclusions and policy recommendations that enhance employment creation. Chapter 3 explores the role of the safety net system, particularly unemployment insurance and other forms of social assistance; presents a brief simulation analysis of the disincentives provided by unemployment insurance, social assistance, and social support; provides an empirical analysis of disincentive effects; and ends with a discussion of the policy implications. Chapter 4 focuses on the poverty and welfare of the Roma population. Finally Chapter 5 telescopes regional disparities.
  • Publication
    Growth Challenges and Government Policies in Armenia
    (Washington, DC, 2002-02) World Bank
    This report reviews growth trends in Armenia for the period 1994-2000, outlines major weaknesses of existing development patterns, and suggests a package of policy recommendations designed to accelerate enterprise restructuring, attract investment, and encourage the creation of new businesses in the medium term (three to five years). Such steps are needed to sustain (and preferably to increase) the current growth rates, to stop emigration among the young and skilled, and to reduce poverty. The government needs to focus much more clearly on generating the environment for private sector led growth by removing bottlenecks in policies, infrastructure, and institutions that prevent new private businesses from flourishing. International aid donors can help by supporting the removal of administrative barriers for investments, the rehabilitation of infrastructure, and the creation of "restructuring agencies" that will enable firms in key sectors to overcome or avoid common constraints to business growth in Armenia. Successful restructuring by such firms should have a demonstration effect on the country's economy and help consolidate public support for moving forward the program of reform begun a decade ago.
  • Publication
    Kyrgyz Republic : Fiscal Sustainability Study
    (Washington, DC, 2001-12) World Bank
    The study reviews the macroeconomic developments in the Kyrgyz Republic following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when adjustments were required since output fell by fifty percent between 1991-95, resulting in adverse fiscal consequences, which triggered losses in tax revenues, along with the implicit end of energy subsidies. Part I examines the fiscal, and debt sustainability, proposing a three-fold strategy: a) efforts for an urgent renewal are needed to consolidate macroeconomic stability -- fundamentally, a significant fiscal adjustment is required; b) debt relief should be considered, given the large burden, and there is the need to preserve social expenditures; and c) decisive structural reforms are necessary to underpin fiscal adjustment, and increase the efficiency of resource uses. Part II examines the structural issues, particularly the tax system, and the role of the state in infrastructure and utilities, focusing on accelerating the transformation of public infrastructure and utility companies, and how to improve taxation. The report also emphasizes a transparent and targeted system in the provision of basic services to the poor, through reform policies and the inclusion of the private sector.
  • Publication
    Poland's Labor Market : The Challenge of Job Creation
    (Washington, DC, 2001-10) World Bank
    The study reviews recent labor market developments in Poland, examining the factors behind the rise in unemployment, and, proposing actions that should contribute to increased job creation rates. Its main purpose is to inform - based on research findings - on the policy dialogue regarding the current labor market situation in the country. Those main findings indicate that the rise in unemployment results primarily from an acceleration of job destruction, that begun with the wave of enterprise restructuring in the aftermath of the Russia crisis, and has persisted in part, because of an imbalance in the fiscal-monetary policy mix. It also finds that the recent rise in unemployment has highlighted important barriers in the transition from old, to new jobs. These barriers include a binding minimum wage, high taxes on labor income, limitations in the labor code, and a relatively easy access to early retirement, and other social benefits. Additionally, the problems with the ongoing restructuring of the Polish labor market have been compounded by an increase in new labor market entrants, primarily recent school graduates joining the labor force, and, of particular concern are the new labor market entrants with only basic vocational education or less, namely in rural areas, given that educational attainment is a determining factor on employment status. The policy agenda needs to gradually address unemployment issues, through better fiscal-monetary policy mix, through greater flexibility in the wage structure, and, through tax reductions on labor income, and changes in the labor code. Moreover, investments in worker's education and training needs to be improved, realigning the incentives under labor market programs, and lowering the costs of starting, and running businesses.