22 June 2019 - Zsuzsanna Hargitai, director for the Western Balkans at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said that the countries of the region will need almost two hundred years to catch up with the average income level of the EU member states if their progress continues in such a slow pace.
Speaking in an interview with Serbian weekly Business Magazine (Nira Press), the Western Balkans director said that complex business regulations and the state capture of public enterprises were the main reasons why the Western Balkans lag behind, adding that the course, however, could change.
Ms Hargitai emphasized that the less involvement of the state and more investment in infrastructure were the primary tasks of the EBRD when it comes to helping the region.
“This (current state), however, can and should change because the countries of the Western Balkans have well-educated people who can be productive as their peers in Western Europe. Better institutions, less government interference, more investment in infrastructure - these are the most important tasks and the EBRD is there to help in all areas,” Hargitai emphasized.
She also explained that the EBRD representatives would like to see improved preparation and implementation of projects in public infrastructure projects - which would contribute to faster achievement of tangible results in this area.
One year ago, Zsuzsanna Hargitai was appointed as Regional Director for the Western Balkans at the EBRD and in one of her first statements, she announced that she would seek to increase EBRD's investments and support in the field of economic policy on the path of the countries of the Western Balkans towards the European Union. She also stated that the process of EU accession is the main driver of reforms.
Now, a year later, Ms Hargitai says that already in the past year, the volume of EBRD investments has increased to close to 400 million, while at the same time, they continued with activities to improve the policy framework.
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