The EBRD has achieved an historic record in Serbia in 2019 with EUR 516 million of new financial commitments, lifting the Bank’s results to a new level, especially in the private sector and the green economy.
The EBRD signed more than 20 new projects and registered the highest investment volume in the country since Serbia joined the EBRD in 2001, the EBRD statement reads.
– We are delighted with the results achieved. Our commercial financial institution partners continue playing a key role in channelling targeted and tailored EBRD funding to small businesses and retail customers. We take particular pride in leading financing for the first public-private partnership in the region for environmental infrastructure in Vinča, Belgrade, to be constructed in line with EU standards, said EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, Zsuzsanna Hargitai.
The statement further adds that fostering the competiveness of the private sector, supporting Serbia’s environmental infrastructure and supporting investments in energy efficiency and clean energy remain the Bank’s key priorities in the country.
To enhance the competitiveness of the private sector, the Bank channelled EUR 226.2 million in credit lines to commercial banks for on-lending to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), while it channelled EUR 5 million direct financing through WB EDIF and Enterprise Expansion Fund.
SMEs were also given access to credit lines blended with incentives funded by the European Union, while 140 SMEs received advisory support for building export capacity, digitalisation, marketing, financial management or business skills development.
Sweden and Luxembourg continued to support women entrepreneurs with training and tailor-made advisory support, and Luxembourg additionally supported new Star Venture Programme designed to boost growth of selected high potential start-ups.
Additionally, the EBRD also on-lent EUR 40 million in credit lines to commercial banks for supporting mortgage financing.
The EBRD committed financing for the rehabilitation of the 40-year old Vinča landfill in Belgrade and the construction of new landfill and waste-to-energy facilities. The EBRD contributed a EUR 72.25 million loan to this milestone project and mobilised EUR 35 million provided by Erste Group Bank AG under the A/B loan structure, and EUR 21 million in concessional finance funded by TaiwanICDF.
The EBRD further supported Serbia’s transport infrastructure with an additional EUR 100 million loan to the state-owned passenger railway company Srbija Voz to buy up to 18 new trains. As well as investing in the new fleet, the EBRD also helped the company improve its corporate governance, expand and upgrade a railway depot in Zemun as well as improving its IT systems, energy management and ticket sales, thus contributing to overall modernisation of the national railway.
In the agriculture sector, the EBRD provided a EUR 15 million loan to Serbia to finance the rehabilitation and construction of irrigation infrastructure in two regions, Negotin and Svilajnac.
Under its Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF), which started in 2019 and is supported by the European Union, Austria, WBIF and Energy Community, to date the EBRD enabled over 600 households to improve their energy efficiency. In 2019, two local banks, Erste and UniCredit, offered GEFF loans to Serbian citizens.
The Bank also extended EUR 10 million under the Global Climate Fund (GCF) – GEFF programme to UniCredit Leasing for supporting SMEs in purchasing energy-efficient equipment.
Other green investments included a EUR 7 million loan to Novi Sad’s public transport operator to buy new, low-emission buses and a EUR 2.5 million loan to the municipality of Sabac for an upgrade of up to 40 multi-storey residential buildings.
In 2019, the EBRD also launched its Renewable District Energy in the Western Balkans programme. Serbia’s two first large-scale windfarms in Čibuk 1 and Kovačica, which the EBRD has financed, were completed in 2019 and are now generating clean energy.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Serbia. The Bank has invested more than EUR 5.6 billion across 255 projects in the country. The EBRD is supporting private-sector development and the transition towards a green economy, as well as investing in infrastructure to improve private sector competitiveness and boost connectivity in the Western Balkans region.