The World Bank warned on Friday that the Covid-19 pandemic could have dire consequences for the economies of the Western Balkans and that unless regional economies re-launch as soon as possible, up to 400,000 people are at risk from falling into poverty.
In an analysis published on its website on Friday, the World Bank said that in their previous economic report from the autumn of 2019 they had warned that regional economies could face serious risks due to an anticipated drop in growth rates both globally and regionally, and that the outlook has now been made even worse by the pandemic.
World Bank's analysts said that many jobs are expected to be lost in the Western Balkans region, and that without an "appropriate response" by the region's governments at least 400,000 people could fall into poverty.
A large number of jobs in the region are either temporary or in the so-called informal sector of the economy. These jobs will likely be worst affected by restrictions and closures of businesses. "What is worst, many of those workers will not be able to benefit from social welfare," the analysts said.
The report added that "careful management of liquidity" is an important challenge for governments, to prevent the crisis from further escalating while providing assistance to those who need it the most.
"Wherever there is space for monetary or fiscal policy, now is the time to use it to maintain the economy's productive capacity and market functioning and for support to and salvaging of the economies and existence," analysts said.