The presented case study provides a review of the rationales behind state ownership and the decisions to establish SOEs and delineates specific implications of these policies. Its main focus are SOEs in Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.
All three Polish members of the 4Liberty.eu Network – Civil Development Forum (FOR), Liberté! Foundation, and Projekt: Polska – signed an open letter to the President of Poland Andrzej Duda with an appeal “to protect Polish Constitution and the rule of law which it guarantees”.
Privatization, however, is not only a sale of government-owned properties: It is first and foremost a process of separating the government from intervention in many other areas, not just the economy. Georgia is a positive example, and an almost unique exception in this respect.
The 2008 financial crisis, geopolitical tensions, and other macro factors have slowed down SOE privatization. In some CEE countries, the trend has even reversed. Estonia nationalized its railways in 2007 and Lithuania bought out private investors in its energy companies.
Energy transformation, Germany’s plan to transform the energy industry into a greenhouse gas-neutral energy supply, is no longer solely a federal government project. Local authorities are beginning to push ahead with energy transition focused on decentralized municipal energy concepts.
Huge levels of state ownership in the Polish economy negatively affects its productivity and growth prospects. Although the employment share of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in total employment of the Polish economy might seem limited (about 5%), their share among the largest, most important companies is much more significant.
The Hungarian state’s share in the economy is high – but mostly in line with other countries. What stands out among OECD countries is the number of companies owned partially or wholly by the state that attests to some degree of micromanagement.
In finance and development, Law and Justice has also set a controversial goal of boosting state control over the economy. One of the main obstacles for Poland’s development – based on the government’s Plan for Responsible Development – is a lack of balance between foreign and domestic capital.
Similar to other CEE economies, privatization in Bulgaria did not start with the 1989–1990 transition period. The same applied to other market reforms, too, as the dominant view among policymakers at that time was that Bulgaria should undertake gradual changes to minimize social suffering.