Friday, 16 July 2021

Jehan Arulpragasam is New Director of World Bank in Croatia

July the 16th, 2021 - The new director of the World Bank in Croatia is Jehan Arulpragasam, succeeding Elisabetta Capannelli, whose four-year term expired back in June.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the new World Bank in Croatia director, who is also taking the same position for neighbouring Slovenia, will head the Zagreb Office and oversee the strategic, analytical, operational and advisory programme of the World Bank in Croatia and Slovenia.

Jehan Arulpragasam otherwise holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the prestigious Cornell University and then a master’s and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, USA.

He comes to Croatia with 35 years of vast experience in the field of international development in more than 40 countries under his belt, with more than 10 years of experience in managing the World Bank's large credit and analytical programmes.

"In his work, he is focused on inclusive growth and human development, which covers a wide range of topics ranging from macroeconomic and fiscal policies to structural sectoral reforms and social policy," the statement on his arrival in Croatia said.

After the Republic of Croatia was classified as a high-income European Union country according to the World Bank criteria (which might shock a few), the institution's strategy and approach changed somewhat.

The current programme of the World Bank in Croatia is primarily focused on mitigating the economic and social consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, post-earthquake reconstruction for the City of Zagreb, Zagreb County and Sisak-Moslavina County, transport, justice, innovation, business environment, the land registry system, science and technology and the economic development of the often overlooked Pannonian Croatia.

For more, make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Jehan Arulpragasam New World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - Economist Jehan Arulpragasam has been appointed the new World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia, the World Bank Office in Croatia announced in a statement on Wednesday.

In this position, he will lead the World Bank Office in Zagreb and oversee the World Bank’s strategic, analytical, operational and knowledge program in both countries.

Mr. Arulpragasam is an economist with 35 years of experience working in international development in over 40 countries world-wide. His work has focused on inclusive growth and human development, covering a range of issues from macro-economic and fiscal policy to structural sector reform and social policy.

The World Bank's current program in Croatia focuses on mitigating the economic and social impact of COVID-19, post-earthquake reconstruction, transport, justice, innovation, business environment, land administration, science and technology, and economic development of the Pannonian region.

The World Bank has been a partner to Croatia for over 27 years. During this period, the Bank has supported more than 50 projects, worth almost US$5 billion, produced numerous studies, and provided technical assistance to help strengthen institutions and support the design of policies and strategies, the statement said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković Satisfied With World Bank Support in Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the World Bank's support to Croatia's efforts to reconstruct the areas hit by the 2020 quakes, and with cooperation in projects aimed at facilitating the recovery of the private sector's exporters affected by the corona crisis. 

A press release issued by the government notes that the premier held a meeting with World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, and a few other WB officials in Government House.

On that occasion, Plenković expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the World Bank and the support that institution had provided to Croatia in the reconstruction since the earthquakes had struck Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County in March and December 2020.

He was quoted as saying that he was satisfied with the permanent cooperation in projects aimed at helping exporters in the private sector to recover from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister in particular thanked the World Bank for its support until now in preparing Croatia's 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan. He underscored the importance of fostering further cooperation and the implementation of projects for Zagreb's reconstruction and revitalisation of the Banovina area in Sisak County, the press release said.

In June last year the World Bank approved two $500 million projects to provide urgent support to the government in an attempt to relieve the impact of the tremors that hit Croatia and of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank also provided technical support in preparing a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA 2020), which was an important document to mobilise €683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. The World Bank also provided technical assistance in the RDNA for the earthquake-struck areas in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Bjerde was accompanied at the meeting by World Bank's Country Director for the European Union Gallina Andronova Vincelette, the World Bank's new country manager in Croatia Jehan Arulpragasam, and Special Assistant at World Bank Group Fanny Weiner.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Monday, 31 May 2021

World Bank Report Says Fast Internet Too Expensive For Croatian Wages

May 31st, 2021 - The digital market in Croatia is not fully mature, and Croatia belongs to a set of countries that could be termed "lagging fast movers," the World Bank says in a final report on the subject, as the fast internet is too expensive for Croatian Wages. 

In analyzing the ICT sector, the World Bank focused on the internet (fixed and mobile), telephony (fixed and mobile), and pay TV markets.

The World Bank explains Croatia's insufficient maturity because most revenues still come from telephony, not internet services.

In terms of the Digital Economy and Society Index, Croatia is below the EU average in terms of digital performance and service usage, but their rate of improvement is above it. 

As for fixed internet, Croatia has the opportunity to additionally accelerate its performance because the fixed broadband coverage is better than in comparable countries, but that is not reflected in usage.

Croatia is markedly below average in actual access despite coverage in terms of fast service (at least 30 Mbps download). As for ultrafast fixed internet (100 Mbps), Croatia is below average in terms of coverage and service usage.

Although Croatia has made progress in recent years regarding the take-up of fast fixed broadband service, "urban take-up is still more than twice that of rural take-up."

The report also says that "Croatia performs particularly badly with respect to rural penetration in comparison to other EU countries and remains far from the 100 percent EU household take-up target for 2020."

Affordability is one reason for Croatia’s underperformance regarding fixed broadband take-up and overall digital market assessment. The World Bank says that in terms of affordability, Croatia is quite below most EU countries.

For more news about Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Saturday, 15 May 2021

World Bank Approves €200m Loan to Help Enterprises in Croatia

ZAGREB, 15 May 2021 - The World Bank Board of Directors on Friday approved a loan to the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) in the amount of €200 million for the HEAL Croatia Project (Helping Enterprises Access Liquidity in Croatia), the World Bank said on Saturday.

The loan will provide liquidity and financial restructuring to firms that have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the two devastating earthquakes of 2020.

"The approval of this Project is very important as it provides support to companies affected by the crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic, thus ensuring the preservation of jobs and providing an incentive for economic recovery. The additional benefit is that it will attract commercial banks to finance the private sector and facilitate financing from other international financial and contribute to increasing the operational efficiency of HBOR. It is important to emphasize that the World Bank provides this Project under very favorable conditions," said Finance Minister Zdravko Marić.

To mitigate the multiple effects of the pandemic, the Project will support firms focused on export, both small and medium enterprises (firms employing fewer than 250 people) and mid-caps firms (employing from 250 to 3,000 people).

The Project will increase access to finance for firms from less developed regions of Croatia, women-owned or managed firms, and young enterprises (operating less than five years). The Project will also support HBOR’s continued development through improved business processes, strengthens sustainability and climate change resilience, and use of EU funds.

"Favorable terms and conditions granted by the World Bank will provide us an additional source of finance for further favorable loans to our entrepreneurs. In addition, the World Bank, as the leader in the field of environmental and social management, will support HBOR in enhancing its own Environmental and Social Management System. This will be important as HBOR's activities in the coming period will be particularly committed to building more capacity for supporting sustainable projects and inclusive growth," said HBOR Management Board president Tamara Perko.

The HEAL Croatia project complements two other World Bank crisis operations approved last year, the Croatia Crisis Response and Recovery Program and Earthquake Recovery and Public Health Preparedness Project - worth together $500 million, to help mitigate the effects of the economic shock, advance recovery, facilitate earthquake reconstruction and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness for pandemic outbreaks.

"The HEAL Croatia project will contribute to a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery of Croatia, which has been hard hit by the global pandemic, the economic recession, and the devastating earthquakes of March and December 2020," said Elisabetta Capannelli, the World Bank Country Manager for Croatia.

"We expect the HEAL project to help preserve jobs and support household livelihoods through direct support to approximately 150 firms employing around 25,000 people. It will also help firms led by women, young firms and firms that operate in less developed regions to address issues related to longer-term access to financing," she added.

In the past 27 years, the World Bank has supported more than 50 projects in Croatia worth almost $5 billion, produced numerous studies, and provided technical assistance to help strengthen institutions and support the design of policies and strategies.

For more, follow our business section.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

STARS Project Gives Guidelines For €5 Billion Made Available to Agriculture Sector

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - Documents resulting from the Strategic Transformation in Agriculture and Rural Space (STARS) project will help determine how around five billion euros that have been made available for Croatia's agricultural sector will be spent, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Thursday.

The Agriculture Ministry and the World Bank cooperated on the STARS project, and the agreement on project cooperation was signed in October 2018.

Analyses, studies and guidelines made during the project have thus been significantly used also in making a draft agricultural strategy for the period until 2030, which has been put to public consultation, and in making a national aquaculture development plan for the period 2021-2027. Both documents are aimed at enhancing the sectors' competitiveness and adapting them to current conditions.

Numerous domestic and foreign experts, sector stakeholders, employees of the Agriculture Ministry and other Croatian institutions and universities cooperated on the project, with Vučković noting that the start of work on the project had coincided with debates about the future of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which will affect financing priorities and development of agriculture in all member states.

The project served to reexamine the situation and needs of the Croatian farm sector, as well as the measures that are being implemented, and its documents will be used in deciding how the roughly five billion euros intended for Croatian agriculture will be used, Vučković said.

Great chances for development of Croatian farm sector

Project coordinator Svetlana Edmeades of the World Bank said that the World Bank strongly believed that Croatia had great chances for the development of its farm sector.

Farm producers have central place in the project, which identifies as national strategic goals an increase in productivity and in the resilience of farm production to climate change, stronger competitiveness of the agricultural and food sector, revival of rural economy and improving living conditions in rural areas.

Edmeades underlined the importance of knowledge and innovations, noting that the development of Croatia's agriculture should be green, resilient and inclusive, which includes, among other things, production of organic food, sector resilience to shocks, as well as greater involvement of smaller producers in existing value chains.

She said the project achievements were a number of reports that should serve as guidelines for the ministry and farm producers towards a green, resilient and inclusive agriculture.

The World Bank official said that the analyses were expected to significantly contribute to the government's programme with regard to specific targets in the farm sector, in the making of a national agricultural and rural development strategy, participation of agriculture in the national recovery and resilience plan, and national strategic planning within CAP.

Value of agricultural production to be raised to HRK 30bn by 2030 

State secretaries Tugomir Majdak, Zdravko Tušek and Šime Mršić presented the draft agricultural strategy for the period until 2030 and the national plan for the development of aquaculture in the period 2021-2027.

The officials said that the projected effects of the strategy until 2030 were an increase in labour productivity of 60% and the consequent increase in the value of farm production to HRK 30 billion, for which funds in the amount of €7.5 billion were envisaged.

This should be achieved, among other things, by a 35% increase in the number of locally bred fattening pigs, a 20% increase in cattle breeding, expanding areas under permanent crops by 5,000 hectares and areas where crops are grown under glass by 500 hectares, a 20% increase in the share of the food industry in GDP and a 30% increase in the number of producers in short supply chains.

The national plan for the development of aquaculture in the period 2021-2027, which is being made, will put emphasis on stronger competitiveness and the creation of 15% more jobs in the rural and coastal economies in the aquaculture value chain, including an increase in total production volume of 30%, a 35% increase in added value in the processing of aquaculture products, and an increase in the average annual consumption of aquaculture products per capita by as much as 50%, the Agriculture Ministry said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Friday, 15 January 2021

Minister Says HRK 12 bn Secured for Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Thursday that around HRK 12 billion had been secured through the EU Solidarity Fund, World Bank loans and the state budget for the reconstruction of areas hit by last year's earthquakes.

Speaking in an interview with the HTV public broadcaster, Horvat said that clear rules on how to organise reconstruction would be published in the Official Gazette within a month from the earthquake that hit Sisak-Moslavina County on 29 December.

He added that the government still did not have a complete financial framework for reconstruction but that so far HRK 12 billion (€1.6 billion) had been secured.

"Some sources are known and some we are still trying to secure. Around HRK 12 billion has been secured - through the Solidarity Fund, World Bank loans, the budget. As part of the National Recovery Plan we will also seek.... grants as well as loans," the minister said.

The Croatian government earlier on Thursday formulated amendments to the Act on Post-Earthquake Reconstruction, originally intended for the City of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje counties, hit by a 5.2 magnitude quake on 22 March 2020, to make the law refer also to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties.

The reconstruction of buildings destroyed in the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties will be fully financed by the state.

Bosnian Croats to finance reconstruction of one institution, houses

Leaders of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina said on Thursday they would finance the reconstruction of one state institution as well as build family houses in the quake-hit areas of Croatia.

This was agreed at a meeting in Mostar between the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Čović, and local officials from a number of towns and municipalities in the neighbouring country and visiting Croatian state secretaries Zvonko Milas and Nikola Mažar.

Solidarna foundation raises HRK 8.4 mn for quake-hit area

The Zagreb-based Solidarna foundation earlier this week reported that it had raised more than HRK 8.4 million (€1.12 million) for Sisak-Moslavina County.

Some of the donations paid into the foundation's 5.5 Fund have already been used to buy consumables for people affected by the earthquake and the foundation also plans to participate in the long-term reconstruction and recovery of the quake-hit county.

The 5.5 Fund was established by the Zagreb Earthquake Relief civic initiative and the Solidarna foundation after the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb. At the time, the foundation raised HRK 1.5 million for earthquake victims. It reactivated its fund after the earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County and its fund-raising campaign is still underway.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Capannelli: No Progress Unless Government Changes Public Policies

ZAGREB, October 22, 2020 - If the government does not change the public policies, there will be no progress, World Bank (WB) Country Manager for Croatia Elisabetta Capannelli said in Thursday's issue of Vecernji List daily.

Boosting the efficiency of the Croatian judiciary, increasing the public administration's efficiency by streamlining administrative procedures and reducing bureaucracy and investing in education, research and development and innovation are the crucial but not the only areas of the public sphere in need of an urgent reform so that the business climate would improve and that the trust in Croatian public institutions would be strengthened, Capannelli said.

In an interview for Vecernji List she analysed the goals of Croatia's draft 2030 National Strategy and warned that economic growth could not be the only aim.

What is economic growth without justice, fairness, the voice of the people and democracy? Growth cannot be the only goal of public policy, Capannelli said.

She said that Croatia could move closer to EU averages faster, but more effort was required if we wanted to achieve stronger and more inclusive economic growth.

However, it will not succeed if it continues pursuing public policies of the past ten years in the next decade. Strategies turn into reality only when they are implemented, and Croatia has not really been successful in implementing good ideas. If the government and, what is even more important, the entire society are truly committed to implementing important reforms, Croatia can really escape the low-growth trap it is in today, Capannelli said.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

World Bank Supports Croatia in Waste Management Programme

ZAGREB, Sept 29, 2020 - World Bank (WB) Country Manager for Croatia, Elisabetta Capannelli and Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Coric signed an agreement on Tuesday whereby the bank will support Croatia in transforming its waste management system, the WB stated.

As part of its technical support, the principle of circular waste management will be built into Croatia's Waste Management Plan after 2022 in line with EU directives and package of measures for circular waste management, the WB said in a press release.

Croatia is currently falling behind in achieving the EU objectives that are related to reducing the quantity of waste, mostly due to the poor technical and financial capacities of its city and municipal authorities to separate waste and encourage recycling.

The World Bank will assist in revising the existing waste management plan and recommend ways to accelerate its transformation in line with the EU's plan for a circular economy.

"In the coming years it will be challenging to respond to the objectives awaiting us and they are that by the end of 2020 we are expected to have 50% of waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separated and recycled and we have to take steps to meet those demanding objectives and to increase separated and recycled waste to 65% and decrease waste disposal to 10% by 2035," said Coric. 

Over the past three years the government has worked intensively on establishing the necessary infrastructure to establish an efficient waste management system and the results are visible at the regional and local level, he added.

Coric underlined that the agreement with the World Bank is a step further in transforming to a circular economy.

Capannelli underscored that transforming waste to a resource means a circular economy. If we repeat production, reuse and recycle waste from one sector it could be raw material for another and we will come closer to a circular economy, said the WB official.

That will help reduce health and environmental problems, reduce greenhouse emissions and avoid negative effects at the local level which devastate the local landscape with landfills and pollute the air and waters. 

The World Bank will readily provide support to Croatian institutions and cooperate with key stakeholders in creating a cleaner and more sustainable Croatia, she said.

The World Bank has been in Croatia since 1993 and in that time it has provided about $4 billion in aid for more than 50 projects.

Currently, the aid is directed to relieving the economic and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, helping reconstruction following the March 22 earthquake, and projects in transport, judiciary, innovation, business environment, land management, agriculture and economic development of the Slavonia region.

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Saturday, 27 June 2020

World Bank Grants Croatia Two Projects Worth $500 Million in Total

ZAGREB, June 27, 2020 - The World Bank Board of Directors on Friday approved two projects totalling $500 million to provide emergency support to the Croatian authorities to cushion the effects of the triple shock that hit the country earlier this year.

The unprecedented crisis was caused by the health impacts of COVID-19; the economic crisis caused by the pandemic lockdowns in Croatia and worldwide; and the extensive damage caused by the strongest earthquake in 140 years that hit the Zagreb area on March, 22, the World Bank Office in Croatia said in a press release.

Maric: World Bank recognises Croatian gov't efforts, supports swift, targeted economic packages

The $300 million Crisis Response and Recovery Development Policy Operation supports the government’s swift and targeted economic packages approved in March and April 2020 to mitigate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 crisis. It also addresses some of Croatia’s longstanding institutional gaps and builds the foundations of an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

"Economies around the world face a number of very demanding challenges caused by the pandemic. We are aware that the World Bank, as one of the leading international financial institutions, which represent an important source of liquidity, carefully selects the projects and programs it will support. Therefore, we are proud that among numerous requests, the Bank recognised the initiative and efforts of the Government of the Republic of Croatia by approving this important instrument that will contribute to strengthening the implementation of measures to deal with the current crisis," Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said.

The first set of measures supported by this operation will mitigate the impact of the pandemic on workers and companies.

To help Croatia during the relief stage, the World Bank is supporting wage subsidies to reduce job losses and expand free health insurance coverage for the poor. It is also providing additional liquidity to firms so they remain productive through financing programs and tax relief.

The second set of measures supports inclusive and sustainable economic recovery by addressing key institutional bottlenecks.

The program promotes income support policies for elderly people without incomes, especially elderly women, and people in rural areas. The measures also include a policy and accountability framework to promote low carbon development and resilience to climate change in line with EU targets. Administrative improvements to the framework for the absorption of EU funds are also included to enhance the efficient management of EU funds.

Two loans, worth $500 million, for economic recovery, post-quake reconstruction

"The World Bank has replied positively to Croatia’s request for support by preparing two operations that are both urgent and critical, given the magnitude of the economic crisis in Croatia, further exacerbated by the earthquake. Both the Croatia Crisis Response and Recovery Program and Earthquake Recovery and Public Health Preparedness Project - worth together $500mn or 0.9 percent of Croatia’s GDP - will help mitigate the effects of the economic shock, advance recovery, facilitate earthquake reconstruction and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness for future pandemic outbreaks," says Elisabetta Capannelli, the World Bank Country Manager for Croatia.

The $200 million Earthquake Recovery and Public Health Preparedness Emergency Recovery Project is the first big reconstruction loan for Zagreb following the devastating March earthquake.

The project will help with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of critical public services in health and education facilities. It will also help with the design of a financial support program for private housing reconstruction, to be financed through public, private, and other financiers and strengthen the institutional capacity of the national authorities to respond to future disasters and manage future risks.

The project will help the country deal with future public health outbreaks and strengthen disease surveillance systems and develop the epidemiological capacity for early detection and confirmation of diseases. It will also support the repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of public health laboratories, finance necessary equipment, including for active contact tracing and reporting of new cases.

Maric: Gov't reacted swiftly, established cooperation with WB

"Faced with an extremely adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Croatian economy and the sustainability of public finances and taking into account the significant damage caused by the earthquake, the Government of the Republic Croatia reacted swiftly and engaged early with the World Bank to provide a fast and targeted response. We appreciate the World Bank's timely reaction and prompt preparation of this operation. The project will help restore critical public services and strengthen the future resilience of the health system. Given that the reconstruction of Zagreb will last for years, this project is a part of the wider Government's strategy and approach towards the reconstruction of our capital", says Maric.

The World Bank has also helped the Government to prepare a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA), which will be the basis for the Government's reconstruction plan, and catalyse other sources of funds, from the EU, other International Financial Institutions and Donors/Partners, for the city's reconstruction.  

"To deal with the consequences of an earthquake in addition to a pandemic is an extraordinary feat that Croatia will have to face and for which financial, technical and advisory support will be needed from all. The Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment, that the Bank has helped prepare, will help quantify the financial impact of the earthquake. While the reconstruction will be very costly, we are confident that together with the authorities and Croatia's partners, we can support a fast recovery," says Capannelli.

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