Development Banks from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans will cooperate to develop the infrastructure in the region
"We need to think on a large scale and across borders," said in its opening remarks the Chairman and CEO of the Bulgarian Development Bank Stoyan Mavrodiev at the forum "Infrastructure for Growth", part of the program of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event gathered in Sofia the heads of the European Fund for Strategic Investment, the European Association of Public Banks, the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Association of Long-Term Investors and other financial institutions, directors of development banks from the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe, government representatives and ambassadors of neighboring countries.
BDB initiated the discussion on joint projects for better connectivity in the Balkans, export promotion, innovation and foreign participation in the expansion of the infrastructure in the region. Among the ideas of the hosts, as expressed by BDB’s CEO Stoyan Mavrodiev, were the increase of the synergy in the work of the European Investment Bank and the national development banks, the co-financing of infrastructure together with the European Fund for Strategic Investment and the establishment of a center in Sofia which will increase the project generation capacity in the region.
The Chairman of the European Fund for Strategic Investment Gerassimos Thomas outlined the main directions in the development of the Juncker Plan. The Fund will continue to invest in infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises and innovation. Structural and Cohesion Funds remain an important pillar.
"We expect even more active participation from the network of national development banks in the implementation of investments. In partnership with the Bulgarian Development Bank, private producers can be supported and can achieve much, "said Thomas.
To date, 161 transactions have been signed between EFSI and national development banks. The funding mechanism has been improved and is already based on GDP per capita in order not to harm the smaller countries.
EUR 274 billion has been granted the Fund to support projects that are already implemented. Bulgaria is one of the ten countries with the best absorption, said Gerassimos Thomas. The goal is to achieve EUR 300 billion by 2020.
According to the Minister of Economy Emil Karanikolov, what hinders the Balkan states is the lack of connectivity between them. "Better roads, rail infrastructure, gas and electricity connections - this will bring people closer and back the business," the minister said.
He stated that the Investment Plan for Europe is already showing positive results in this direction, thanks to the national promotional banks.
This is the first international forum organized by the Bulgarian Development Bank with the intention of becoming a traditional meeting of European financial institutions, development banks and government representatives and to achieve financial cooperation, economic prosperity and stability in the region.
The event coincides with the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the BDB Act, as well as of its restructuring to a national bank with a mandate for the development of the economy.