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Lukashenko: Belarus will always be reliable partner for EBRD

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus will always be a reliable partner for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti on 4 March, BelTA has learned.

The head of state emphasized that Belarus will always honor its commitments to the bank. Alexander Lukashenko thanked the EBRD top management for their attention to the country. The cooperation between the country and the Bank intensified considerably last year, the EBRD investment doubled.

Alexander Lukashenko emphasized the EBRD role in implementing vital projects that have an impact on the quality of life. “I would like to mention the projects that have to do with housing and utilities, quality of drinking water (it is very important for us), road construction, repair of bridges, which is a burning issue in many our communities. These projects are vitally important for our state,” the president noted.

The head of state assured that the EBRD recommendations, suggestions and assistance in privatization processes are of great importance; so is the support for SMEs on the part of the Bank. “The state did not have an opportunity to provide this kind of support. You came to Belarus and upheld our entrepreneurs. This is a great contribution to the future of Belarus,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian president suggested holding the Annual Meeting of the EBRD Board of Governors in Belarus in 2022 and pledged to organize this event at the highest level.

Suma Chakrabarti thanked the Belarusian president for the good words: “It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here. This is our third meeting and I would like to take part in such meetings more often, because our relations are steadily growing stronger.”

The EBRD president noted that there are multiple ways to assess progress in cooperation between Belarus and the Bank. “Naturally, the volume of investment is one of them. You were absolutely right saying that last year the investment skyrocketed to reach nearly $400 million. This is a good figure. At present Belarus is among our top 10 partners. However, the ultimate goal is to make it into top 5 in the coming years,” he said.

As BelTA reported earlier, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development invested more than €360 million in 21 projects in Belarus. This is the highest ever result since the Bank launched its operations in the country.

Among the EBRD's key promising projects in Belarus is the pilot project to upgrade residential buildings to improve their energy efficiency. Together with the Belarusian government, the Bank is working on new approaches to corporate governance in the public sector.

In 2018, the EBRD conducted approximately 2/3 of its operations in the private sector, the rest in the public sector. The Bank is set to stick to this ratio in the next five years prioritizing the development of the private sector.

For example, in 2018 the EBRD earmarked the largest municipal loan of €84 million to Minskvodokanal, €5 million to the solid waste management company in Pukhovichi District and Cherven District of Minsk Oblast and also €42 million to complete the Minsk Ring Road 2 renovation project.

The Bank signed loan agreements with a number of foreign and domestic companies in the private sector. The Bank allocated €50 million to the manufacturer of particleboard and furniture company IOOO VMG Industry, €20 million to the furniture manufacturer IOOO Mebelain, €20 million to OOO Evrotorg. In 2018, the EBRD bought a stake in the agricultural group Servolux and also issued a €5 million loan to the pharmaceutical company Apteka Group.

In the banking sector, the EBRD continued cooperation with Belinvestbank having allocated it a €50 million loan. Work began to finance new projects in Belarusian rubles.

The EBRD supported the development of renewable energy in the country, having financed the construction and commissioning of four biogas CHPs in Grodno Oblast and Brest Oblast.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development launched a Green City action plan for Minsk to identify the activities and areas of investment to address the priority environmental problems.

The Belarusian government and the EBRD signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the pre-privatization support for OAO Krinitsa in 2018-2020.

The EBRD is an international bank, which facilitates the development of the private sector and entrepreneurship initiative in 38 economies on three continents. The EBRD shareholders include 67 countries, the European Union, and the European Investment Bank. Since the EBRD began working in Belarus in 1992, the bank has invested over €2.4 billion in 115 projects in various branches of the national economy.