LONDON - Western bankers and officials warned the former communist countries of central and eastern Europe on April 14 that they needed to act more vigorously to stamp out corruption and inefficiency, while saying that some of the region's more economically advanced countries, such as Slovakia, be weaned from assistance programs.
At the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), German finance ministry state secretary Juergen Stark said the EBRD, set up in 1991 to help the former Soviet bloc make the transition to market economies, scale down its activities in the most successful countries - generally understood to mean the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary - in favor of the weaker ones.
"The Bank must begin to withdraw from operations in the advanced central European countries, for which an increasing volume of private finance is on hand," Stark said. "This means that the regional emphasis of the Bank's operations will shift further eastwards."
But his Slovak counterpart, Tatiana Šilhanková, objected, saying it would be premature. "It certainly seems premature to consider suspending Bank lending to certain central European countries because they have reached an advanced stage of transition towards a market economy," she said.
24. Apr 1997 at 0:00 | Richard Murphy