KOPAONIK: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will seek to invest up to 450 million euros a year in Serbia over the next five years, focussing on the transport network, green energy and agribusiness, a bank executive told Reuters.
“Our objective to keep at the level we’ve been doing, which is something around 350 to 450 million euro a year,” Daniel Berg, the bank’s country manager for Serbia said.
He said the bank, which on Monday announced its five year strategy for Serbia, the biggest of the six Western Balkan states seeking to join the European Union, will be looking to invest major portion of its funds in private sector.
In its strategy the bank said it will look to invest in projects for reform of state owned enterprises, transport infrastructure and renewable energy.
Berg said that the bank this year will be competing to participate in at least one of the two big projects in Serbia – Belgrade airport, for which French firm Vinci was given a 30-year concession and an energy waste project outside Belgrade.
He said he expected to see more lending through banks as the sector recovers from a high percentage of non-performing loans.
Berg expects mining, tourism and agriculture to be the main sectors with investment opportunities.
He said that Serbia seeks to close down its ailing coal fired power plant there will be more opportunities to invest in hydropower capacities.
Serbia has been lagging behind its Central European peers, with much lower growth rates. Last year economy grew 1.8 percent and it is expected to grow 3.5 percent this year.
But Berg says if the government persists with planned reforms such as improving business climate, restructuring of state owned companies and investing more in infrastructure, economy could perform much better.
In 2015 Serbia signed a 3-year loan deal with the International Monetary Fund committing to curb debt and stem rising budget deficit. It completed the programme successfully in February.
But to maintain sustainable growth it needs to reforms or sell state owned companies including power utility EPS, copper mine RTB Bor and petrochemical plants.