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Although reforms have advanced significantly in a number of areas since the mid-1990s, the economy still faces a number of fundamental restructuring challenges, both in the public sector, which remains large and inefficient, and in the private sector. In the forthcoming strategy period, therefore, the Bank’s main strategic directions will include aspects listed below.
Mitigating the impact of the crisis and restoring sustainable growth
Croatia was one of the worst-hit countries in the region by the global crisis of 2008-09, and has struggled towards recovery ever since. In the context of the new joint IFI action plan for growth in central and south-eastern Europe, the Bank will tailor its financing to meet potential demand for long-term investment as well as working capital financing, operational/financial restructuring. Support to the corporate sector will be aimed both at foreign investors and local companies, including through financial intermediaries for SMEs. The Bank’s investments will be strengthened by policy dialogue to promote economic restructuring, diversification and improved business climate conditions and corporate governance.
Leveraging the benefits of EU accession to advance transition
EU accession is expected to bring substantial benefits to Croatia, but these will depend in part on further developing the country’s administrative capacity and deepening structural reforms. Once Croatia joins the EU it will have access to substantial amounts of EU structural funds, but experience shows that new members often have difficulty absorbing these funds effectively. In addition, private sector companies may find it difficult to meet the challenge of enhanced competition in the single market. The Bank will work closely with the authorities and the EU in selected areas with significant transition gaps where structural funds can be blended with those of the Bank to accelerate transition, including in the municipal sector where the Bank will seek to facilitate the consolidation process. The Bank will also provide financing, mainly though financial intermediaries, to facilitate investments by corporates to enhance their competitiveness in EU markets.
Restructuring and commercialising public sector enterprises
One of the reasons for the economy’s continued stagnation is the delay in restructuring large infrastructure utilities. The government has started addressing this problem, with the first restructuring steps taken with Croatian Railways. Croatia’s EU accession makes reforming public sector entities an even more urgent task, as the country’s absorption capacity for EU structural funds is conditioned on capacity enhancement, financial and operational improvement at public utilities. The Bank will work with the authorities to accelerate the reform of publicly-owned companies in the infrastructure sector.
Last updated 27 June 2013