Time to verify approaches

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development aims to promote private initiative through co-operation but, five years ago, refused to continue liaising with the state sector

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development aims to promote private initiative through co-operation but, five years ago, refused to continue liaising with the state sector. EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti notes that the Bank’s shareholders may change their approach to co-operation with Belarus once a new country strategy is adopted. Possible changes would affect mostly state companies.

Preparatory work on the document is in full swing but the programme should launch only in 2016. “All restrictions on EBRD co-operation with the state sector (under the present strategy) are guided by our shareholders,” the official explains. “However, even this situation creates plenty of possibilities to liaise vicariously. We are using such opportunities.” During his visit to Minsk, Mr. Chakrabarti met PM Andrei Kobyakov and Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei. He also met heads of those banks through which the EBRD offers loans to small and medium-sized businesses. EBRD representatives visited Stadler Minsk JSC, in Fanipol, where production of high-speed trains has been named ‘exemplary’ by the Belarusian President (funded by the EBRD).

Mr. Chakrabarti believes that, by the time that the new 2016-2019 country strategy is ready, the Bank’s shareholders may agree upon a new approach. The bank has many times expressed its satisfaction with Belarus’ independent investing of its own funds into interesting and truly profitable projects. In addition, the official admits that his Bank is interested in increasing financing for small and medium-sized businesses, through the banking sector. “The Belarusian Government has agreed to study a gradual shift of some state banking assets into the private sector, to ease further bank investment,” Mr. Chakrabarti explains.

By Mikhail Vetrov
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