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 This series as been superseded by the World Bank Studies series.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 - 7 of 7
  • 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
    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
    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
    Czech Republic : Enhancing the Prospects for Growth with Fiscal Stability
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001-09) World Bank
    The Czech government is confronted with a worsening fiscal situation. The structural deficit ballooned in 2000, and it is expected to widen further in 2001. The report suggests that, at this stage of the recovery, fiscal retrenchment instead should be in order, both to make room for private demand to expand, without putting undue pressure on interest rates, and/or on the external current account, and, to set the country on track towards adhering to Stability and Growth Path when in the European Union (EU). The report sees a stronger case, and greater scope for adjustment on the expenditure, than on the revenue side. Expenditures have shot up in the last three years, to a level which exceeds those observed in comparable countries. Worse, most existing expenditure programs, seem locked in upward trajectories, and fresh spending pressures (arising from EU accession, contingent liabilities, or decentralization) are building up. The report illustrates, for selected sectors (bank restructuring, social protection, health, education, transport, and housing), the challenges involved in correcting expenditure trajectories. A key message is that, to succeed, the process of expenditure reform will need to be firmly grounded in the development of analytic capacities, in both core and line agencies, linked with enhancements in the country's institutions, and procedures for fiscal management.
  • Publication
    Bulgaria : The Dual Challenge of Transition and Accession
    (Washington, DC, 2001-05) World Bank
    The study assesses Bulgaria's progress in its transition to a market economy, and in its preparation for accession to the European Union (EU), through an analysis of economic developments during the 1990s, with special emphasis on the 1997-1999 period. It identifies the major challenges the country faces in sustaining macroeconomic stability, and accelerating growth. To maintain fiscal stability and ensure adequate public investment to gradually reduce the public debt will require building strong fiscal risk, debt management skills. The public investment required to meet the dual challenge of completing the transition, and joining the EU, is significant. The Government's remarkable reform program of the last three years, has radically transformed the economy, with conditions established for high, and sustained growth. Yet, unemployment is growing, and by and large, the standards of living have significantly declined, meaning further reforms will be needed to boost private investment, and establish the supportive institutional foundations required for a market economy. The reform agenda focuses on ensuring a public-private interface through macroeconomic stabilization, eliminating state direct interventions, and building the public-private legal framework, as well as capacity, and credibility.