The FINANCIAL — A senior delegation from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), led by Phil Bennett, First Vice President, and Pierre Heilbronn Vice President, Policy and Partnerships, visited Moldova on 13-14 February for high-level talks.
The EBRD representatives met Pavel Filip, Prime Minister of Moldova; Octavian Calmîc, Minister of Economy; Octavian Armașu, Minister of Finance; Sergiu Cioclea, Governor of the National Bank; existing and prospective clients, as well as business associations and foreign partners.
The discussions focused on the business climate, EBRD investments in Moldova and flagship projects in the public and private sectors planned for 2017. The two sides discussed the implementation of large transport, energy and municipal infrastructure projects, including those co-funded by the European Union, according to EBRD.
The EBRD delegation praised the authorities’ efforts leading to the approval of an IMF programme in November 2016 and emphasised the critical importance of full and continuous compliance with the programme’s covenants.
The parties discussed in depth the ongoing transformation of Moldova’s banking sector and emphasised its central role for business confidence, macroeconomic stability and attracting investment in the country.
In his meetings with the authorities, Phil Bennett reiterated the EBRD’s strong commitment to Moldova and to further supporting its economy and reforms: “This visit reconfirms the importance that we attach to Moldova. We are about to start working on a new country strategy to be approved in 2017. We are thus in the midst of an important planning period. We look forward to continued improvements in the business climate and to effective anti-corruption measures. Transparency and good governance in the banking sector represent the essential litmus test for Moldova’s ability to tackle its major challenges.”
The First Vice President noted the progress achieved in 2016 and added that the Bank expected a genuine breakthrough in 2017. “Real progress in reforming the financial sector this year would allow the EBRD to invest much more – with commercial banks, with local and foreign investors in Moldova, and with the public sector. This would enable us to step up lending to the real economy, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises. Moldova has significant untapped potential. In recent years, we have witnessed successful examples of foreign direct investment, for instance in the automotive sector. The EBRD supported many of these investments. Continued reforms can anchor Moldova more firmly in the minds of investors.”
The EBRD delegation also included Francis Malige, EBRD Managing Director, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director and Regional Head for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, and Henry Russell, EBRD Director, Financial Institutions in Western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine.
The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Moldova. To date, the Bank has invested close to €1 billion in more than 100 projects in the country. The EBRD is also working with the authorities to promote key reforms, including in the banking, energy and municipal sectors. Together with the UK government’s Good Governance Fund, it is promoting commercial mediation in the country and is supporting the work of the Economic Council to the Prime Minister of Moldova, a platform to discuss with the private sector measures to improve the business climate.
The Bank’s operations in Moldova are headed by Dimitri Gvindadze, who took up the Chisinau-based position in May 2016.