Romania is a transition country on-track to join the European Union in 2007. Owaise Saadat is in charge of overseeing the World Bank’s work in the country.
Owaise’s role as Country Manager involves the usual task of representing the World Bank and guiding its work in Romania. The Bank’s three main priorities in the country are to sustain its ongoing reform programs, help implement the country assistance strategy, and oversee programs to reduce poverty and raise living standards. "Romania is one of our largest clients in the EEC region. It has a very large population, second to Poland, still with a large pocket of poverty, and has ambitions to enter the EU, so there is a large unfinished agenda still remaining. This is an active posting, and is about the second largest portfolio in the EEC region", said Owaise.
Owaise took up his current post as Romania Country Manager in August 2003 after working in several transition economy countries. "I was selected by the highest management of the WB to come and work in Romania, I’m very grateful to them for giving me this opportunity, but it is likely all the experience I have in the Bank, particulary in transition economies, that made me suited for a country which is important for the Bank", he asserted.
A Pakistani national, Owaise holds a MPhil in Law from Cambridge University, UK and a first degree in economics. He joined the Bank in 1975. He was appointed to the current four-year posting after working as World Bank Armenia Country Manager. He also served in Kazakhstan as Senior Operations Adviser/Manager and prepared one of the first World Bank operations relating to anti-corruption in Europe and Central Asia region.
One of the more recent initiatives in the country in supporting the Decade of Roma Inclusion with a US$ 50 million project. "Briefly, the planned Romania Roma Development Project will help initiate consultation with stakeholders, set goals for improvements in four identified priority areas: education, employment, health and housing, and further policy development to attain minimum living standards".
As an economist, Owaise would like to see Romania’s economy stabilized before his posting ends. "If we get a 4.5% growth rate for Romania over the next 4-5 years I think it will be quite good. That is what I would like to see during my period in Romania that the country, namely that the growth rate stabilizes".