A World Bank team, led by the new Country Manager, Elisabetta Capannelli is undertaking a visit to Slavonia to discuss the region’s growth potential. The team members will meet some of the key stakeholders contributing to the region’s development to learn more about what can be done to promote growth and improve competitiveness in Slavonia.
The Slavonia region is working to catch up with the rest of Croatia and is looking for ways to unlock its growth potential. The average unemployment rate for the region in 2016 was around 28 percent, while the national rate was 16.9 percent. Jobs are scarce, so young people are increasingly looking for jobs in other more prosperous EU countries. Some 20 percent of the population is at the risk of poverty.
The World Bank team will visit Nova Gradiška, Vinkovci, Osijek and Vukovar, where they will meet the Minister of Regional Development and EU funds, Gabrijela Žalac, counties’ and cities’ authorities, representatives of the employment agency and regional development agencies, a food processing company, innovative Small and Medium Enterprises, business incubators, university professors, social workers and NGOs. The findings from the visit will also contribute to framing the new World Bank partnership strategy for Croatia and define the future program of engagement.
“During this visit, we look forward to hearing about the strategies for economic development of Slavonia, including learning more about the details of the EU funded EUR2.5 billion Project Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem”, said Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia. “The World Bank has been closely working with member states and the European Commission to identify constraints to growth in less developed regions of Poland and Romania, and these experiences could certainly help Slavonia close its development gap,” concluded Capannelli.
The World Bank has been actively supporting the region’s development over the past two decades starting with post-war reconstruction, removal of land mines and social and economic recovery. Currently, the Bank supported projects in Slavonia are focusing on improving the region’s competitiveness. Funding is provided to promising research and development oriented firms, innovative companies and startups. A Bank team is helping to upgrade the position of Croatian firms in global value chains with activities focusing on identifying potentially attractive business segments in 13 industry clusters. In Slavonia, particular attention is paid to food and wood production processing and Information and Computer Technology.
The World Bank, together with the Croatian Bureau of Statistics has developed Income and Consumption-Based Poverty Maps for sub-national levels. These Poverty Maps consist of a detailed geo-referenced database that provides information about the geographic distribution of poverty, aiming to help inform policies to reduce regional disparities and eradicate poverty and social exclusion. The Poverty Maps and the Multiple Deprivation Index currently underway will help the authorities to achieve better and faster absorption of EU funds, in particular for the strategic Project Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem.