One of the key features of the Russian political landscape is the rise and political awakening of the middle class, particularly in major cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. At the end of 2011 the new generation of Russia’s urban middle class for the first time began to position itself as a more determined political force, asserting its rights to have a greater say over the future development of the country.
The EBRD has been a strong and longstanding partner for Russia, its largest country of operations. In the next three-year Strategy period, this relationship will continue to flourish as the Bank endeavours to assist the Russian authorities achieve their important reform objectives during turbulent times and to sustain its high level of engagement. While the previous country strategy for 2009-11 focused in part on supporting the country’s short-term crisis response, this new country strategy for 2013-15 will refocus the Bank’s activities on addressing the longer-term core challenges of the Russian economy, which include (1) diversification, (2) modernisation and innovation; (3) private sector development; and (4) regional development.
Throughout its operations in a wide range of economic sectors the Bank will therefore pursue the following cross-cutting strategic priorities:
Diversifying the economy: The Bank will support diversification by prioritising investments in private enterprises and private financial institutions that support non-resource sector growth. The Bank will also use policy dialogue and TC to support improvements in the business environment that are crucial for successful diversification.
Investing in and setting standards for modernisation and innovation: The Bank will support enterprises that innovate, introduce modern new technologies, or upgrade to international standards, particularly with regard to corporate governance, transparency, energy efficiency, inclusion and gender issues. The Bank will seek to increase its partnerships with international and domestic technology players, technology parks, credible and competent equity fund managers and venture capital funds. The Bank will also consider projects to modernise the transport, power and municipal and environmental infrastructure sectors. Improving energy efficiency will be a key aspect of modernisation across various sectors of the economy.
Supporting privatisation and private sector development: The Bank will support private sector development directly through its projects with private enterprises and banks, through dedicated MSME credit lines and equity funds, and potentially through (pre-)privatisation activities, provided they are transparent and increase competition. The Bank’s core objective will be to increase the role of the private sector through strengthening existing private operators; increasing the MSME share in the economy; pursuing transparent and competitive majority privatisation strategies for state owned companies; conducting policy dialogue on privatisation; and promoting PPPs as a tool to attract more private sector investment into state-dominated sectors. Development and deepening of domestic capital markets will also be a priority to meet the private sector’s growing financing needs.
Increasing economic opportunities in Russian regions: Russia is a federal state divided into 83 regions that vary widely in terms of per capita income, unemployment and investment. To support regional development, the Bank will prioritise projects and reforms that promote transition in regions that are less advanced than Moscow and St. Petersburg and that are committed to improving the investment climate. With the support of technical assistance funds to be provided by the Russian government, the Bank will seek to develop commercially viable solutions in underserved regions where it has been difficult to identify bankable projects, combined with policy dialogue with regional authorities on improving their business environment. The Bank will pay particular attention to projects that increase economic opportunities for the emerging middle class in the regions through increasing access of regional SMEs to finance, supporting urban renewal, and improving the quality of jobs and services.
In all these areas, the Bank’s activities in Russia will be aligned with the overarching priorities of the Government to diversify the economy, to make Russian companies more productive and competitive – especially SMEs – and to improve the quality and reliability of public services. Equity investment can be a particularly potent way to promote transition at the corporate level, bearing in mind risk-return factors and market conditions. To complement its investments, the Bank will use policy dialogue and technical cooperation, supported in part by the Russian Technical Co-operation Fund to be set up by the Russian Government, to support all priorities, with a special focus on strengthening governance, improving the investment climate, and sustainable energy. The Bank will strengthen its catalytic role through international syndications, co-financing and risk sharing with other financial institutions to enhance the impact of its operations in such a large country as Russia.
Last updated 21 December 2012