World Bank official: Croatia behaves relatively well in economic crisis

Croatia was behaving relatively well in the present global economic crisis, unlike some other countries in the region that have been hit hard, a senior official of the World Bank said on Wednesday.

Shigeo Katsu, World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia, said that this was partly thanks to the Croatian financial sector, which was not hit at the start of the crisis. 

Katsu told reporters in the World Bank Office in the Croatian capital Zagreb that Croatia was a relatively stable country and the crisis drew attention to differences between the countries in the region that were “well managed” and those that remained open to risks.

Commenting on the Croatian government’s package of anti-recession measures, notably on the planned budget revision, Katsu said the World Bank supported the government’s efforts to cut expenditure in response to an anticipated decline in budget revenue as a result of economic slowdown.

Speaking of the importance of the tourist industry for Croatia’s national economy and government budget, Katsu said that countries from which tourists were coming to Croatia were in economic trouble, which could adversely affect the success of the tourist season.

That’s why it’s good that Croatia started to think about it early on and decided to revise the budget, he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Katsu held talks with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.

Mesic said Croatia’s external debt was 39 billion euros (49.87 billion U.S. dollars), including 12 billion euros (15.34 billion dollars) due this year, which was a big burden for the Croatian economy.

He said that Croatia should step up efforts to boost exports asa means to alleviate the debt burden.

Katsu said the current economic crisis was the biggest in the last 80 years because of its speed and scope.

The crisis would be long and a quick recovery was not expected, while a long-term period of slow recovery would affect the poor and the unemployed in particular, said Katsu.

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