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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper highlights Bulgaria’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) sector and to assess its performance in a regional perspective. A detailed and rich firm-level dataset of state-owned and private firms was compiled for this note to compare key performance indicators of SOEs to private firms in the same sector and to similar firms in Croatia and Romania for a regional comparison. In some network industries, such as energy, SOEs are heavily loss-making. Large amounts of debt have been piled up notably in the energy and transport sectors which, to the extent that it is classified outside the general government accounts, can pose significant risk to public finances in the form of contingent liabilities if the SOEs run into financial difficulties. SOE profitability and resource allocation efficiency largely lag private firms in the same sectors, even when isolating SOEs engaged in competitive market activities and hence classified outside of general government. Coupled with comparably poor output quality, these challenges have the potential to impair competitiveness and productivity across the economy.
Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler, Jose M Garrido, Ms. Anna Ilyina, Andreas Jobst, Mr. Kenneth H Kang, Dmitriy Kovtun, Ms. Yan Liu, Mr. Dermot Monaghan, and Ms. Marina Moretti

Europe's banking system is weighed down by high levels of non-performing loans (NPLs), which are holding down credit growth and economic activity. This discussion note uses a new survey of European country authorities and banks to examine the structural obstacles that discourage banks from addressing their problem loans. A three pillared strategy is advocated to remedy the situation, comprising: (i) tightened supervisory policies, (ii) insolvency reforms, and (iii) the development of distressed debt markets.