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Economies in Transition: An OED Evaluation of World Bank Assistance

Economies in Transition: An OED Evaluation of World Bank Assistance

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The transition economies of the Europe and Central Asia Region faced unprecedented political, economic, and social change after the break-up of the Soviet Union. With assistance from the World Bank and other donors, many countries quickly accomplished a number of reforms, but progress in others has been slower. Much has been achieved––the private share of GDP in the transition countries is nearly 70 percent, and 8 countries have joined the EU--but much remains to be completed. Economies in Transition assesses the effectiveness of Bank assistance to the transition, focusing particularly on five topics: 1) private sector development; 2) governance, public sector management, and institution-building; 3) the financial sector; 4) social protection; and 5) energy. Overall Bank assistance has been successful, but there were mistakes before the true nature of transition was fully understood. The Bank internalized the emerging lessons and shifted its emphasis accordingly. This study highlights the importance of lending at prudent levels until a solid knowledge base is established, with convincing evidence of government and societal ownership of the assistance program. It contends that analysis of governance and poverty monitoring should be early features of the assistance program, active programs of stakeholder inclusion should be widely replicated, and country assistance strategies used to bolster reform capacity.
The transition economies of the Europe and Central Asia Region faced unprecedented political, economic, and social change after the break-up of the Soviet Union. With assistance from the World Bank and other donors, many countries quickly accomplished a number of reforms, but progress in others has been slower. Much has been achieved––the private share of GDP in the transition countries is nearly 70 percent, and 8 countries have joined the EU--but much remains to be completed. Economies in Transition assesses the effectiveness of Bank assistance to the transition, focusing particularly on five topics: 1) private sector development; 2) governance, public sector management, and institution-building; 3) the financial sector; 4) social protection; and 5) energy. Overall Bank assistance has been successful, but there were mistakes before the true nature of transition was fully understood. The Bank internalized the emerging lessons and shifted its emphasis accordingly. This study highlights the importance of lending at prudent levels until a solid knowledge base is established, with convincing evidence of government and societal ownership of the assistance program. It contends that analysis of governance and poverty monitoring should be early features of the assistance program, active programs of stakeholder inclusion should be widely replicated, and country assistance strategies used to bolster reform capacity.

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Published by: WorldBankPublications on Jun 03, 2009
Copyright:AttributionISBN:9780821359341

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02/05/2016

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9780821359341

This evaluation examines the Bank’s assistance to the transition economies

of the Europe and Central Asia Region since 1989. It is largely a meta-
evaluation of Bank products and services in the transition countries,
based on existing evaluative material—Country Assistance Evaluations (CAEs),
Project Performance Assessment Reports (PPARs), Project and Implementa-
tion Completion Reports (PCRs, ICRs), Quality Assurance Group (QAG) data
and reports, OED sectoral and thematic studies, and Bank- executed client sur-
veys—as well as on other Bank strategic and project documents, economic
and sector work, interviews, and literature from outside of the Bank. IFC and
MIGA contributed information on their programs in the transition countries.

A series of background reports was commis-
sioned for this study; they are noted in the Bib-
liography. A review of the literature captures the
range of views on the Bank’s role in supporting
the transition, including alternative perspectives
on methods of privatization. A Working Paper as-
sesses the policies followed by the transition
countries and the extent to which known alter-
natives might have resulted in superior out-
comes. Another Working Paper reviews
privatization and enterprise reform from the
point of view of a Bank insider, elucidating the
states of mind that prevailed in selected coun-
tries, the perceptions of the Bank at various
times, the initial conditions faced by reformers
and those who assisted them, and the policy
frameworks that evolved. To complement the
country-level evaluative material in CAEs and

PPARs, and to learn more about Bank assistance
from the point of view of the borrowers, papers
were commissioned from former government of-
ficials and researchers in Hungary, Kazakhstan,
and Poland; additional country views were found
in Bank client surveys and in comments sub-
mitted by borrowers on CAEs and PPARs. Finally,
five papers cover selected themes in depth: each
one analyzes a particular area of Bank assistance
to determine its expected contribution to the ob-
jectives of transition, the instruments used, and
the relative success of these instruments in
achieving the objectives.
An entry workshop was held in Washington on
May 15, 2002. Speakers included experts from
Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, and Russia; coun-
try and sectoral specialists from inside and out-
side the Bank; executive directors of the Bank

representing transition countries; and Bank and
IMF staff. A transcript of the workshop is avail-
able on OED’s Web site.
This evaluation was financed in part by a grant
from the Swiss Agency for Development and
Cooperation (SDC) under the Bank-SDC Part-
nership Program on Development Effectiveness
through Evaluation.

ECONOMIES IN TRANSITION

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