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IFC Promotes Business Environment Reform in Southeast Europe


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.


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