Zagreb, March 5, 2010 – The new World Bank Country Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries, Mr. Peter Harrold is visiting Croatia for the first time since his appointment to this position in January 2010. The objective of the five day visit is for Mr. Harrold to become more familiar with the country, through meetings with government officials, opinion makers, members of the business community and other stakeholders, as well as, to see firsthand the impact and the benefits of World Bank financed projects in Croatia.
The agenda of Mr. Harrold’s visit included meetings with H.E. Ivo Josipović, President of the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Jadranka Kosor, Prime Minister, H.E. Ivan Šuker, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, H.E. Božidar Pankretić, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Water Management and H.E. Ivan Šimonović, Minister of Justice. Mr. Harrold also met with Mr. Željko Rohatinski, Governor of the Croatian National Bank.
On the second and third day of the visit Mr. Harrold and his associates, visited several World Bank financed projects in the City of Rijeka and the areas of special state concern. In Rijeka the World Bank team, among others, visited the Port of Rijeka where the World Bank has been helping the port modernize to become more competitive and attract more traffic while at the same time reshaping the city into an urban, tourism-oriented city by improving road connections to the port, constructing a new passenger terminal and relocating port activities outside of the city center to free up attractive waterfront locations for Rijeka’s inhabitants and potential tourism oriented activities.
While visiting the areas of special state concern the team visited several projects focused on creating new jobs, rebuilding vital communal infrastructure, renovating schools and kindergartens and demining so that people can safely use their land without fearing for their lives or property.
‘I am very impressed to see the progress Croatia has made over the last fifteen years and the hard work that is being done to finalize the EU accession process. Unfortunately, as in the rest of the region as well as globally, this progress is being slowed down by the global economic crisis, which has also impacted Croatia on many fronts. The government has implemented some socially difficult fiscal measures to mitigate its impact, However, it is important to also see this crisis as an opportunity to speed up structural reforms necessary to lay the ground for sustainable economic recovery and reduction of the income gap with EU member states,’ said Peter Harrold, Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries. ‘As Croatia’s partner, the World Bank has been ready to step up its support in order to assist the Government in addressing the impact of the global economic crisis. Following a EUR100 million loan last year to help preserve exports and jobs, the World Bank approved a EUR200 million budget support operation aimed at assisting the authorities in maintaining macroeconomic stability and an appropriate fiscal framework, assisting the most vulnerable groups in society to cope with the economic hardship, and further strengthening the financial sector. The World Bank is prepared to help the country move along the path to economic recovery.’
Since Croatia joined the World Bank in 1993, the Bank has been active in providing financial and technical assistance, policy advice and analytical services to Croatia. To date, the Bank has offered support for 43 projects with a total value of US$3 billion, and it has approved 52 grants with a total value of US$70 million. Currently 19 projects are under implementation with a total commitment value of US$1.5 billion.