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EIB may open $100m credit line for small business in Belarus

MINSK, 27 June (BelTA) – The European Investment Bank (EIB) is mulling over a credit line of $100 million for small and medium-sized business promotion in Belarus, First Deputy Economy Minister Dmitry Krutoi said at the meeting of the second session of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly as he presented a draft law on the ratification of a framework agreement between Belarus and the European Investment Bank on 26 June, BelTA informs.

"With the ratification of this agreement, Belarus is back on the European investment agenda. The European Investment Bank is one of the key European financial institutions. We have a good opportunity to finance some projects before the end of 2017," said Dmitry Krutoi.

According to the first deputy minister, among the priority activities of the bank is the provision of loans for small and medium-sized business. 30% of its resources were used to promote such enterprises last year. Absolutely all sectors of the economy can be provided with these funds. "We are looking into the opportunity of opening a credit line of up to $100 million through a partner bank, Belarusbank. A primary audit of the credit department of the Belarusian bank was carried out to check the quality of expertise of these projects," he added.

The transport sector is another area of cooperation. An agreement has already been reached with the Minsk City Hall to buy electric buses and buses with gas engines. The second project in the transport sector is the reconstruction of the M7 Minsk-Vilnius road to the border with Lithuania, including the upgrading of the Kamenny Log checkpoint. Initially, the cost of the project was estimated at about $200 million. After the bank's primary assessment, the cost of the project was reduced to $80 million.

The bank names the housing and utilities sector and energy efficiency as the third promising area of cooperation. A project to reconstruct the Minsk sewage treatment plant has been put forward. The provisional cost has been declared at the amount of $145 million and will be further adjusted. Experts are working on the preparation of the relevant documentation.

Dmitry Krutoi also mentioned three principles in the operation of the bank. The first one is co-financing. As a rule, the bank finances up to 50% of the total cost of the project. The World Bank or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are attracted to finance the rest. The second principle is comfortable terms of financing, including the most preferential rates from 1% to 3%, the current EURIBOR form and a small spread. "No international financial institution offer such terms. Long-term cooperation with the bank, up to 25 years with a 5-year moratorium on payment of the principal debt, is an additional advantage," he stressed. The third principle is a project approach. The technical missions of the bank have already selected the key areas for the access to Belarus.

At the meeting on 26 June the Council of the Republic approved a draft law on the ratification of the framework agreement between Belarus and the European Investment Bank.