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IFC Promotes Business Environment Reform in Southeast Europe


In Washington, DC:
Christine Bowers
Phone: +1 (202) 458 8472
E-mail: cbowers@worldbank.org

In Zagreb:
Vanja Frajtic
Phone: + 385 1 2357 297
E-mail: vfrajtic@worldbank.org

In Belgrade:
Slobodan Brkic, IFC
Phone: +381 11 3023 750
E-mail:
sbrkic@ifc.org


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.

About IFC
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.

About FIAS
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.