The International Monetary Fund (IMF), with participation from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has taken an analytical look at the state ownership of companies in emerging Europe in a paper ‘Reassessing the Role of State-Owned Enterprises in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe”.
Nearly three decades into transition, the state retains a large footprint in the regions’ economies, often putting a burden on the private sector and taxpayers with poor financial performance and low quality of service of state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks.
The paper offers the following policy recommendations:
- Governance is key to improving SOE/SOB efficiency.
- Clear ownership policies help governments manage their assets in a depoliticised way.
- Professional and non-political management, overseen by independent supervisory boards, can support a performance-driven SOE operation.
EBRD contributed to the report with several case studies from the Bank’s wide-ranging experience of working with SOEs. The Bank highlighted the lessons learned from projects with the Slovenian bank NLB, the Polish railways PKP, the Slovakian aluminium company Slovalco, the Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz, and the North Macedonian electricity company ESM. The EBRD also shared experience on corporate governance reform in SOEs as well as on methodological issues related to SOE data. EBRD contribution was provided by Umidjon Abdullaev, Sanja Borkovic, and Peter Tabak from the Economics, Policy and Governance departnment, and Gian Piero Cigna and Pavle Djuric from the Legal Transition Team.