The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has been supporting a number of projects and the economic development of BiH for 15 years. In an interview for today’s Oslobođenje, the President of EBRD Suma Chakrabarti spoke of the future plans of EBRD tied to investment in BiH.
On the issue of which sectors EBRD will focus on, Chakrabarti said that in a ‘new strategy of which I spoke with local governments during my visit, they identified the following priorities: focusing on restructuring and expanding the sector of local private companies, development of closer cross-border cooperation and promoting a more efficient and sustainable use of energy resources (energy, water, wood).
Since EBRD has so far cooperated with governments in BiH on the construction of Corridor 5C, on the question of the extent of future cooperation, he said that in 2008 EBRD approved a loan of 180 million euros, along with the funds from EIB for the construction of key parts of the trans-European Corridor 5C.
“This is a very important investment justified by exceptional importance of this project, because this corridor is a key transport axis in the country in the north-south direction, and also connects BIH with neighboring countries. We will continue to strongly support this project because better road infrastructure and transport links are of great importance for the possibility of further economic growth and development of BiH. A few months ago we approved an added increase of our investment to Corridor 5C in the amount of 25 million euros in order to enable a timely completion of the border crossing of Bijača”.
Asked whether EBRD, as one of the financers of the works, would require more stringent criteria for the selection of contractors, Chakrabarti said that EBRD pays considerable attention to upholding the highest standards of business, full transparency and modern practices of good governance.
“Our procurement processes are rigorous and designed in a way that guarantees the most efficient and cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money. In addition to that, we will very openly address this issue at meetings with local governments and our message is that corruption is one of the main obstacles to sustain development in the region. Accordingly, one must take swift and decisive action to eradicate corruption to significantly improve the business climate. We are aware that this is a complex problem and that because of this, a resolution requires a comprehensive approach. Our position is: Strongly against corruption, strongly against the causes of corruption’’, said the President of EBRD.
When asked how EBRD until now approved funds for projects in BIH, as predicted that it would invest in BiH in the future, Chakrabarti said that until today 1,5 billion euros have been invested in BiH.
“This includes a significant expansion of our activities in the last few years. In 2012 we invested 125 million euros in BiH, which is one-third more than investment in 2011, and we expect that during this year we will have investment of more than 150 million euros’’, said Chakrabarti.
He added that BiH has strong potential: abundant cheap energy, strong industrial heritage and a qualified and flexible work force.
“BiH is also close to big regional markets. After the accession of Croatia to the EU, BiH now has a direct border with the EU, which is a chance that should not be missed. However, there are also serious challenges such as the business environment, corruption and high dependence on external sources of funding (including remittances and donor funds). These challenges have to be overcome in order to enable BiH to fully use its potential’’, said the President of EBRD Suma Shakrabarti in an interview for today’s Oslobođenje.