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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.

Publisher: World Bank

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