Belarus moving rapidly in business environment rankings, EBRD's Aleksander Pivovarsky says

Belarus moving rapidly in business environment rankings, EBRD's Aleksander Pivovarsky says

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is ready to finance the creation of new enterprises. Last week, one of the leaders of the bank met in Minsk with the Belarusian President. The head of the bank's representative office in Belarus Aleksander Pivovarsky told our correspondent Yana Shipko about the plans and intentions of the bank.

Alexander, a number of visits to the European Development Bank's top executives to Belarus over the last couple of years... Is this an indication that there is interest in our country to develop co-operation?

Aleksander Pivovarsky, Head of Belarus' representative office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development:
Belarus is a country which starts reforms and changes in different fields of economy. And so we now have a very strong interest. A lot of people from London and other offices come to continue to work and to find out where we can actually do some projects.

And what you tell investors about Belarus?

Aleksander Pivovarsky:
Belarus is moving quite fast in the rankings on the quality of the environment for starting business. Very good infrastructure, road infrastructure, the country is very well linked to various potential trading partners and investors. Perhaps the only factor that now alarms investors is macroeconomic stability. Now you have it but the question is whether it will last. Maybe investors are a little afraid of what will happen next. I think that what the National Bank is doing to improve the macro-stability is very positive work, it is necessary to speak further about it. I hope that all these factors together will lead to the growth in the country's attractiveness. Plus, of course, you now have the visa-free regime. Even for five days but this is a positive step, because now investors can just come here for talks without waiting.

Now there is even talk about giving loans in Belarusian rubles rather than issue currency loans. Is this also a result of stability?

Aleksandr Pivovarsky:
Now, as we have seen already from our experience, the Belarusian ruble is floating. Sometimes it rises and sometimes weakens. But this is connected with some macro-processes in the neighboring countries, and so on. And this is a very positive signal. This now makes it possible to take steps to develop domestic capital markets, which the EBRD would like to support and increase the proportion of local currency lending.

Very many countries in the CIS are waiting for the arrival of the European Development Bank, because it entails the reconstruction of roads and infrastructure, so it affects the quality of life.

Aleksandr Pivovarsky:
We are now discussing cooperation in the field of road construction. Potentially this is road M10. We start talking about potential projects in the railway sector, in the aviation sector, in the energy sector, also projects to improve and reduce energy consumption of residential houses.

Green energy is now becoming something real.

Aleksandr Pivovarsky:
In general, we have a goal: by 2020 we want 40% of our investments (not in terms of quantity, but for each Eurodollar) to be aimed at reducing the resource intensity of the economy. To help reduce energy consumption in the country and increase the quality of public services. And here we have been working for a couple of years in the field of drainage and water supply in small towns. I hope this leads to the fact that the water quality there improves and people live better.

Is the European Development Bank only for large mega-projects, politically sensitive ones or can you offer something to private, small, medium-sized businesses?

Aleksandr Pivovarsky:
Of course, they can. We are engaged not only in large-scale projects. We actually have small and very small projects too. There are small, nearly 1 million euros. In principle, this is not a very big project.

You lived in London. When you worked in the main office in Belarus for several months, you probably had time to see Belarus as a country for life.

Aleksandr Pivovarsky:
I would say that Belarus is a very comfortable country for life. I have only positive impressions. Very good food, especially dairy products, bread, which are of high-quality. Beautiful nature. Here you can easily and quickly go to the countryside. I went skiing and ice skating in the winter, because I had not seen real winter for years. In principle, I have a very positive impression of Belarus.

Thank you very much for this interview.

Aleksandr Pivovarsky:
Thank you.