First Vice President Bennett reconfirms Bank’s commitment
The EBRD has been awarded an “honorary award for its contributions to the economy of Cyprus” by the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency CIPA. In an award ceremony in Nicosia on Monday EBRD First Vice President Phil Bennett accepted the prize on behalf of the Bank and reiterated its commitment to the island: “We have achieved a lot. But much remains to be done,” he said.
The EBRD shareholders decided in May 2014 to expand the Bank’s operations to Cyprus for a limited period until end-2020 to support the country’s efforts to overcome the severe economic and financial crisis it was suffering from at that time. To date, the EBRD has invested almost €250 million in Cyprus and contributed to the return to growth: “We are proud that we are part of the recovery story,” Mr Bennett underlined.
First investments by the EBRD were targeted at stabilising the crucial financial sector. The Bank became a shareholder in Bank of Cyprus in 2014 and Hellenic Bank in 2015. Following the successful stabilisation of the financial sector, the EBRD focused on two other important elements in support of the economic recovery: supporting private businesses’ access to finance and helping local banks to re-establish their links with the international financial sector. Advisory services supported small business across the whole island.
Today, Cypriot banks are among the most active participants in the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme. The banks’ activities play a crucial role in the reintegration of Cyprus into global trade flows. But trade does not only need financing and guarantees, it also has a physical side in the handling of goods. The EBRD supported the granting of a concession for Limassol port to a private concessionaire, which turned out to be one of the great successes of the government’s reform programme.
Building on these early success stories the Bank also assumed a pioneering role in the development of renewable energy on the island. Given the climatic conditions of Cyprus the potential for solar energy is enormous. The EBRD financed a cluster of five new solar plants with a capacity of 1.5 MW. The solar park came on stream at the time of the EBRD Annual Meeting in May, which was held in Nicosia to honour the successful recovery of the Cypriot economy. “I would like to congratulate the authorities as well as the business community and all the people of Cyprus for this great achievement,” Mr Bennett said.
The limited period of time the EBRD can invest in Cyprus “makes it even more important that we continue our engagement at full speed,” the Bank’s First Vice President stressed. He mentioned privatisations, energy sector reforms and the work-out of non-performing loans as examples for possible future investment. He also underlined that the EBRD was a strong supporter of the reunification of the divided island: “Should there be a successful conclusion to those talks, we will be ready to make significant investments to make the reunification a success,” Mr Bennett emphasised.