The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed loans totalling nearly €160 million with the Republic of Belarus to upgrade the country’s water and wastewater infrastructure and strengthen the private sector.
The EU bank is providing €84 million to Minsk Vodokanal to finance the rehabilitation and modernisation of the capital city’s central wastewater treatment plant
Around 200 small and medium-sized companies are also set to benefit from two loans provided to Belagroprombank (€ 50 million) and Belarusbank (€ 25 million).
The EIB said the Republic of Belarus and the Bank are starting a new era of cooperation by signing the first ever loans provided by the EU bank in this country.
The loans, for a total amount of nearly €160 million, target sectors and projects that both the European Union and the Republic of Belarus consider essential in order to foster investments in the areas of social and economic infrastructure, private sector development and climate action.
A first loan of €84 million will finance the upgrading of wastewater services serving close to 2 million citizens in the Belarus’ capital Minsk. The EIB funds will back the installation of new pre-treatment facilities, new aeration tanks for biological treatment, ultraviolet disinfection of the treated effluent and modern sludge treatment. project will be co-financed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and will also benefit from a grant of €1 million from the multi-donor funding instrument the Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund (EPTATF).
The Fund is a multi-donor and multi-sector funding instrument for specific technical support in the Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
By the end of 2017, EIB lending in the Eastern Partnership had reached a total of €8 billion, financing some 90 investment projects and providing credit lines to support SMEs in the region.
The EIB loans to small businesses, intermediated through Belagroprombank (BAPB) and Belarusbank (BBK), will facilitate investment projects and help to meet the working capital needs of private sector companies in Belarus.
This will contribute to the strengthening of the private sector and economic diversification that is particularly important in Belarus, where large state-owned enterprises still dominate the national economy.
Head of EU Delegation in Belarus Andrea Wiktorin commented:
“Today’s event is a significant development in the relations between the EU and Belarus. The EU has not only increased the overall amount of assistance, but also widened the spectrum of available instruments for joint cooperation. This concerns both policy action and sound investments into sustainable infrastructure and private sector development. Belarus will as of now benefit from European Investment Bank lending for the benefit of its citizens and the environment.”
Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas said:
“Belarus is counting on the implementation of landmark projects with the European Investment Bank. I am confident that 2019 will be extremely fruitful for cooperation between Belarus and the European Investment Bank and that the necessary foundations will be laid for establishing trusting partnerships. For my part, I wish to assure you that Belarus is always open for constructive dialogue with the European Investment Bank. I hope that in the future we will see many iconic and ambitious projects”.