Faster growth in Bulgaria is possible with an improved business environment, better transport infrastructure, and a labour force with adequate skills, according to preliminary findings of the World Bank’s Bulgaria Systematic Country Diagnostic report.
Parallel to this, inclusive growth requires more mobility and economic participation of the bottom 40 per cent of the population, as well as more effective health care, social safety net, and pension systems. Sustainable growth could be achieved by safeguarding macroeconomic stability, but mainly by ensuring social stability in the country.
World Bank Regional Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries, Mamta Murthi, visited Bulgaria this week to discuss with the government, parliament and other stakeholders how can Bulgaria turn the tide and promote growth and shared prosperity in the context of the preparation of the Bulgaria Systematic Country Diagnostic report.
According to World Bank Group’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report, released a week ago, growth in the Europe and Central Asia region is estimated to have slowed to a lower-than-expected 2.4 per cent in 2014 as a sputtering recovery in the euro zone and stagnation in Russia posed headwinds.
The 2015 forecast for Bulgaria is for 1.1 per cent growth, which is lower than the estimated 1.4 per cent in 2014.
The World Bank is now preparing the Bulgaria Systematic Country Diagnostic report, which analyses economic challenges facing the country, and ways to achieve faster and inclusive growth that would benefit the whole population, with special focus on the less wealthy 40 per cent of Bulgarians.
After talks with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Mamta Murthi, World Bank Regional Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries, emphasised that, “It was very encouraging to learn that stability and social consensus are the main focus of the new government programme for Bulgaria’s development during the 2014-2018 period, just adopted by the Council of Ministers.
“As an EU member state, Bulgaria is fully equipped to achieve faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth that would work for all Bulgarians. The World Bank is committed to continue supporting Bulgaria in these efforts,” Murthi said.
“The partnership with the World Bank has been traditionally strong and sound and we will continue counting on this institution for strategic advice and financial support,” Borissov said.
He said that the main growth factors were included as priorities in the programme, focusing on improving the business environment, transport infrastructure, the quality of the workforce, while maintaining macroeconomic stability.
Bulgaria currently occupies last place among EU member states in income of the population and according to Borissov, the aim of the measures was to change this statistic.
“The government is determined to restore stability and put the country on the path to accelerated convergence to EU living standards,” Borissov said.
(Main photo: Ivelina Thodora /World Bank)