Bulgaria Eager for World Bank Expertise

Finance | April 4, 2011, Monday // 18:17|  views

Bulgaria's Deputy Finance Minister Boryana Pencheva (middle) says the government is eager to receive World Bank expertise. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria is viewing international financial institutions such as the World Bank as a source of both funding and expertise, according to Deputy Finance Minister Boryana Pencheva.

Pencheva spoke Monday at a public consultation on the Strategy for Partnership between Bulgaria and the World Bank in Sofia.

"We are now seeing IFIs not just as a source of funds but also as a source of knowledge, support, and experience. Our policies today don't provide for increasing public debt but for keeping it at a level that guarantees the reliable and stable funding of the budget," Pencheva declared at the forum organized by the World Bank office in Bulgaria, Bulgarian EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev, and representatives of the business sector, NGOs, and syndicates.

The Deputy Finance Minister said Bulgaria has defined clearly its priorities in the newly announced National Program for Reforms 2015, which are also noted in its Strategy for Partnership with the World Bank.

"We are currently drafting the design of what is going to happen in the years to come. As of today, Bulgaria has stable public finances, and this is a great advantage for us in the European context that will help us achieve our goal of accelerated economic growth," Pencheva declared.

She described the government's Strategy for Partnership with the World Bank as "one more instrument that will help achieve the goals of the National Reform Program".

She emphasized investments in infrastructure – transport, environmental, and educational; investments in education and its interconnectedness with the business sector; and improvement of the business environment and administrative reform.

According to the Bulgarian Finance Ministry, a major focus of Bulgaria's partnership with the World Bank in the next three years will be WB's expert and consulting support for the Bulgarian government with respect to the outline reform priorities.

"We've been seeking a new approach that can replace the term "technical assistance" because Bulgaria is no longer a state from the 1990s" Pencheva stated pointing out that the Bulgaria-World Bank Partnership Strategy is focuses on three districts – supporting policies, support for EU funds absorption, and complementary funding in areas where it is needed.

In August 2010, World Bank President Robert Zoellick visited Bulgaria giving much praise to the Borisov government and signing a deal with it for providing Bulgaria with World Bank experts and expertise for infrastructure projects with international funding. Zoellick was accompanied in Bulgaria by Bulgarian EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, currently in charge of EU's humanitarian aid policy, who is former Vice President of the World Bank.

One of the major reforms where the World Bank is to be heavily involved in Bulgaria is the restructuring of the Bulgarian state railways – BDZ and NKZI – and in December 2010 the World Bank agreed to grant the Bulgarian government a restructuring loan of BGN 600 M in exchange for severe cuts in the state railway companies. This agreement almost caused a massive railway strike in Bulgaria in March 2011 avoided only with a compromise in the last minute.

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Tags: World Bank, Boryana Pencheva, Finance Ministry, Strategy for Partnership Bulgaria-World Bank, National Program for Reforms 2015, EU funds, EU funding, International financial institutions, IFIs


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