World Bank Vice President Philippe Le Houérou Makes First Visit to Croatia

June 28, 2011

Zagreb, June 28, 2011 – The World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Mr. Philippe Le Houérou is visiting Croatia for the first time since his appointment.  Mr. Le Houérou is accompanied by Mr. Peter Harrold, World Bank Country Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries and Mr. Hongjoo Hahm, Country Manager for Croatia.  The objective of the visit is for Mr. Le Houérou to discuss how best the World Bank can help Croatia speed up economic recovery and enter the European Union as a competitive economy.  He met with government officials, opposition leaders, members of the business community and other stakeholders. In addition, Mr. Le Houérou saw firsthand the impact and the benefits of World Bank financed projects in Croatia.

Mr. Le Houérou visited several World Bank financed projects in Rijeka and the areas of special state concern in the Sava River Basin, and the hinterlands of South Dalmatia. The World Bank has been helping the Port of Rijeka modernize to become more competitive and attract more traffic. The Bank has also been working with Rijeka city officials to reshape the city by improving road connections to the port, constructing new passenger and container terminals and relocating port activities outside of the city center to free up attractive waterfront locations. In the areas of special state concern Mr. Le Houérou visited the Croatian Mine Action Center including locations around Sisak where demining activities are still ongoing. The World Bank has helped demine 12.2 km2 of agricultural land which is now ready for cultivation. He also visited the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park where 13 km of dykes have been rehabilitated to protect this area from floods.

‘Croatia has made tremendous progress over the last twenty years and this hard work has been rewarded by successful completion of accession negotiations with the European Union. These efforts have required close coordination, commitment, expertise and resolve by the Croatian authorities and we look forward to continued efforts on this front,’ said Philippe Le Houérou, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. ‘The demonstrated resolve by the Croatian authorities in the fight against corruption deserves to be recognized. We believe that Croatia’s experience can be an example for other countries.’

‘However, Croatia needs continue its efforts to unlock the country’s growth potential. Structural reforms are needed in almost every sector to ensure fiscal sustainability, while at the same time better targeting is needed to improve the efficiency of fiscal expenditures. The World Bank will continue to assist Croatia with these reforms. In our engagement with Croatia, we will pay particular attention to capacity building so that Croatia can fully benefit from EU membership and absorb structural funds once they become available,’ concluded Mr. Le Houérou.

Since joining the World Bank in 1993, Croatia has benefited from financial and technical assistance, policy advice, and analytical services. To date, the World Bank has supported 46 operations amounting to around US$ 3 billion, and approved 52 grants with a total value of US$ 70 million.

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