The FINANCIAL — Delivering on its commitment to boost Palestinian businesses, the EBRD has signed its inaugural project in the West Bank during the first visit by President Suma Chakrabarti to Ramallah.
Summarising his stay the EBRD President said: “We are very pleased to offer our unique model of combined investment, policy engagement and technical assistance to our Palestinian partners with the goal of improving the business environment. Local businesses have proven to be remarkably resilient and adaptable under challenging circumstances and our goal now is to work towards steady development for the benefit of the population.”
During his visit to Ramallah and Bethlehem the EBRD President met Azzam Shawwa, the Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority; Rula Maayeh, the Minister of Tourism; and Abeer Oder, the Minister of National Economy. He emphasised the EBRD’s readiness to deepen the engagement in the West Bank and Gaza where several projects are currently under preparation, according to the EBRD.
The signing of the first project in the West Bank marked another highlight of the visit. It is a US$ 5 million loan to Cairo Amman Bank Palestine which will be on-lent to small firms and was welcomed by President Chakrabarti with the words: “I am delighted to launch our first investment with the strong support of the authorities. We are confident that this will mark a first step towards improving businesses’ access to finance. Supporting the all-important private sector is key for the development of the local economy.”
The visit by President Chakrabarti was the first since the EBRD shareholders’ decision last year to expand the Bank’s operations to the West Bank and Gaza. Here the Bank will provide support to improve the competitiveness of the private sector as well as strengthen innovation, increase access to finance for small businesses, promote improvements of the business climate, foster the sustainable supply of energy and promote private sector participation in energy efficiency and infrastructure. First initiatives are promising and the Bank has already built a strong pipeline of projects, exceeding available funds and requiring the mobilisation of donor support to match the strong demand for EBRD support.
The EBRD delegation included Heike Harmgart, EBRD Director, Eastern Mediterranean Region, who is also responsible for the Bank’s operations in Jordan and Lebanon.
The EBRD was established in 1991 with the goal of supporting the development of market economies and promoting the private sector. Having started in central and eastern Europe, today the Bank operates in 38 economies across three continents, from Morocco to Mongolia and Estonia to Egypt.
To date, the Bank has invested about €120 billion in more than 5,000 projects. The southern and eastern Mediterranean region, to which the West Bank and Gaza will belong, is currently the fastest-growing region of EBRD operations with more than €6.7 billion in over 175 projects in less than six years.