Zagreb, Croatia, September 26, 2007—
FIAS, the World Bank Group’s investment climate advisory service, in partnership
with the Croatian government’s Central State Administrative Office for
e-Croatia, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Croatian Chamber
of Economy recently hosted a two-day conference in Zagreb to promote business
environment reform in southeast Europe. It brought together key policymakers
from across the region to discuss the progress and challenges of related
reforms. The event was opened by Damir Polančec, Deputy Prime Minister
of the Republic of Croatia.
The Croatian government recently completed
a significant regulatory reform initiative that is aimed at reducing the
cost of doing business and improving the business enabling environment.
Doing Business 2008 rated Croatia as the second-fastest reforming
country in the region and seventh-fastest in the world. By introducing
electronic bookkeeping, the government has reduced the time it takes to
register property. It has also introduced a unique access point to make
is easier to register companies. Public notaries have also been empowered
to enforce debt collections.
“We are proud that Croatia is recognized
as a regional leader in reforms. As a country that will soon become a member
of the European Union, we have a lot of advice for our neighbors, but there
is also a lot we can learn from them. Croatia continues to develop a competitive
and open economy, one that builds on the social and economic achievements
of the previous era. It is important that we develop a regulatory environment
that can guarantee the goals of the country’s strategic development framework,
both in the short and long term,” said Miroslav Kovačić, State Secretary
of the Central State Administrative Office for e-Croatia.
Due to regional integration and the
importance of stronger trade and business relations with the European Union,
other countries in southeast Europe are undertaking similar reforms. At
the conference, government and private sector representatives from Bosnia
and Herzegovina, the FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia discussed
initiatives to improve the business enabling environment and increase the
competitiveness of companies.
Pierre Guislain, IFC/World Bank Director
for Investment Climate, noted that significant reform programs are underway
in several southeast European countries. He said, “In an increasingly
globalized world, governments have to change the way they deal with businesses
and accelerate the pace of regulatory reform—it is necessary to attract
high-quality investors and create more jobs.”
Representatives of IFC, FIAS, the European
Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Transparency
International, as well as the governments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia also made presentations at the
conference, advocating for closer regional cooperation and improvements
in the business enabling environment.
IFC, a member of the World
Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries
by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local
and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation
services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people
have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07,
IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through
loan participations and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing
countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more
information, visit www.ifc.org.
IFC provides advisory services to support
private sector development and attract new investments in Serbia. The programs
concentrate on four business lines: value addition to firms, access to
finance, infrastructure advisory services, and the business enabling environment.
To learn more about IFC advisory programs in southern Europe, visit www.ifc.org/pepse.
FIAS is a multidonor advisory service
of IFC, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the World Bank.
FIAS advises governments of developing and transition countries on how
to improve their investment climates for domestic and foreign investors.
It focuses on regulatory simplification, industry-specific investment climate
issues, and investment policy and promotion. Since 1987, FIAS has assisted
over 130 countries in increasing the level and impact of private investments
through more than 680 projects. For more information, visit www.fias.net.