World Bank head James Wolfensohn was in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, this last week to mark Slovenia's upgrade from borrower to donor country within the World Bank. It's the first former communist country to be given this status and it's being hailed an important milestone for Slovenia's economy.
The signing ceremony in Ljubljana last week of World Bank and Slovene government officials marked an important turning point in Slovenia's transition from a socialist to a market economy. After thirteen years of independence from the former Republic of Yugoslavia - and years of reform - Slovenia was finally upgraded from a borrower to a donor country of the World Bank.
Financial and technical help from the World Bank has played an important part in this transition - such as during the privatisation of Slovene state industries and the reform the country's social & welfare systems. Slovenia's Finance minister Du"an Mramor:
" Slovenia still has the right to receive help, professional help for three years after the graduation of 240 thousand Dollars per year."
After that these financial sources will dry up. But some analysts says Slovenia's progression to the club of donor countries is good for its economy, because now Slovene companies will be able to find out and participate in international calls for tenders of the bank. John Wolfensohn is director of the World Bank
" Slovenia has exactly the same access as the largest countries, because as long as you have access to the system you have the same access as anybody else. And so this gives a tremendous leverage in terms of both: receiving technical assistance and giving technical assistance."
In Wolfensohn's opinion Slovenia's will have the same influence on World Bank policies as all the other bigger countries. But not all Slovenes are enthusiastic about their country's status. A group of anti- globalists tried to stage a protest during the signing of the contract but security guards prevented them from doing so. Out in the streets, however, they managed to paint bomb Finance minister Dusan Mramor and John Wolfensohn.
Mr. Wolfensohn later at a press conference stated:
"What is good in this country is that you do have a free society, you have the opportunity of expressing your own views."
Many economic analysts remain sceptical. The last 10 - 12 years have witnessed continued economic growth in Slovenia as well as a relatively high degree of social reform. The question is, whether these policies will continue in Slovenia after such a quick introduction of the globalisation process.
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