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World: Economic News From IMF And World Bank Annual Meeting

Washington, 9 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Delegates to the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meeting took the opportunity to voice their views on the economic situation in their respective countries:

Kosovo Situation Hurting Bosnian Economy

Bosnia's minister for foreign trade and economic relations, Mirsad Kurtovic, said the situation in Kosovo is having very negative effects on the federation's hopes to rebuild its economy.

In a statement Kurtovic said that the increasingly tense situation in the region is scaring investors away from Bosnia while adding the burden of caring for more than 20,000 refugees.

He said the continued presence of the multinational force inside Bosnia was an important positive factor, reducing the risk for foreign investors.

Still, said Kurtovic, Bosnia's financial situation is grim. He reiterated Republika Srpska Finance Minister Novak Kondic's speech earlier this week that the federation cannot continue to pay its already rescheduled debt.

He said Bosnia wants to resume talks with the Paris Club of official creditors as soon as possible, but that it needs greater understanding because its case is atypical.

Papava Says Crisis Near Thwarted Georgian Reforms

Georgia's minister of economy, Vladimer Papava, said the effects of the Russian financial crisis nearly thwarted Georgia's economic reforms.

Papava said that because Russia remains Georgia's largest foreign trading partner, Georgian export sales to Russia have taken a drastic fall.

Addressing the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Wednesday, Papava urged creation of a program of special emergency assistance in both institutions to help countries like Georgia which have been hit, or soon will be, by the Russian crisis.

Despite the difficulties, however, Papava said Tblisi remains firm in its determination to continue democratic and market-oriented transformations.

Minister Says Croatia Has Remarkable Stability

Croatian Finance Minister Borislav Skegro said Croatia has achieved what he calls remarkable economic stability -- with above average growth and inflation held to below four percent.

He told the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank yesterday that Croatia is one of the successful cases among the transition economies in emerging Europe.

But he also acknowledged that because of the country's low domestic savings rate, its size, and location, it is not able to attract adequate flows of private capital and is having to depend on official flows such as loans from the international institutions.

Skegro said that even with its strong growth, Croatia still needs to reform its banking sector, move ahead on privatization of state-owned banks and large public enterprises, and make the trade system consistent with requirements to joint the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Darbinian Says Regional Cooperation First Priority

Armenian Prime Minister Armen Darbinian said that regional cooperation is a first priority for Armenia's foreign policy, but that it is seriously hampered by the continuing blockade imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Speaking to the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank yesterday, Darbinian said cooperation and integration, globally and regionally, is a central element of the world's economy going into the 21st century.

Darbinian said Armenia's economy has demonstrated significant achievements in the past year, but did not mention to what extent it has been affected by the Russian financial crisis.

The prime minister said in reforming the architecture of the world economy, it is necessary to have a global system that is stable, sound, open, transparent and fair.