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International Monetary Fund

Bulgaria’s currency board arrangement continues to have broad political and public support and shows no signs of strain, as interest rates are low and stable, fiscal reserves ample, and banks liquid. A structural reform agenda has also been implemented. The authorities have improved banking supervision, started the overhaul of the pension and health care systems, and liberalized trade and prices. Executive Directors stressed the need to strengthen the bank supervision and corporate governance to reduce the perceived risks of lending to the private sector.

International Monetary Fund

Bulgaria’s currency board arrangement continues to have broad political and public support and shows no signs of strain, as interest rates are low and stable, fiscal reserves ample, and banks liquid. A structural reform agenda has also been implemented. The authorities have improved banking supervision, started the overhaul of the pension and health care systems, and liberalized trade and prices. Executive Directors stressed the need to strengthen the bank supervision and corporate governance to reduce the perceived risks of lending to the private sector.

International Monetary Fund
In 1999, Executive Board deliberations on Bulgaria focused on the need for the authorities to persevere with structural reform. Under the currency board arrangement introduced in mid-1997, Bulgaria has achieved macroeconomic stabilization and made substantial progress in structural reform. Banking supervision has improved markedly. Executive Directors stressed the importance of wage moderation and flexible labor markets for maintaining competitiveness and reducing unemployment. The emerging private sector also faces many obstacles, including burdensome bureaucracy and red tape, weak governance, and a banking system hesitant to extend credit.
Uwe Böwer
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play an important role in Emerging Europe’s economies, notably in the energy and transport sectors. Based on a new firm-level dataset, this paper reviews the SOE landscape, assesses SOE performance across countries and vis-à-vis private firms, and evaluates recent SOE governance reform experience in 11 Emerging European countries, as well as Sweden as a benchmark. Profitability and efficiency of resource allocation of SOEs lag those of private firms in most sectors, with substantial cross-country variation. Poor SOE performance raises three main risks: large and risky contingent liabilities could stretch public finances; sizeable state ownership of banks coupled with poor governance could threaten financial stability; and negative productivity spillovers could affect the economy at large. SOE governance frameworks are partly weak and should be strengthened along three lines: fleshing out a consistent ownership policy; giving teeth to financial oversight; and making SOE boards more professional.