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Investment Councils at the forefront of the EBRD Covid-19 response

By Marko Atanasovski


The EBRD-supported Investment Councils (ICs) are a key part of the Bank’s policy response to the coronavirus pandemic. These well-established platforms for dialogue help governments to develop policy responses which are supportive of business, especially where capacity has been constrained.

From the outbreak of the crisis, IC secretariats have strengthened their efforts to facilitate the dialogue between businesses and governments. As an active participant, the EBRD has direct exposure to many national stakeholders, informing the Bank’s responses to Covid-19.

Active in 12 EBRD countries of operations these councils aim to provide a platform for public-private sector dialogue between the government, the private sector, as well as the donor community. The goal is to contribute to a positive business environment by supporting the implementation of agreed policies.

In order to ensure the continuation of the public-private dialogue during the pandemic, the EBRD Governance and Political Affairs (GPA) team recently organised a virtual conference for ICs – building on the previous events in Istanbul 2015, London 2017 and Tbilisi 2018. This year’s conference featured the ICs’ role in supporting the economic recovery of the EBRD countries of operations in the aftermath of Covid-19.

For two days, around 100 participants discussed policy initiatives and the EBRD’s response to mitigate the impact of the crisis and support clients. The opening session featured high-level government participants with Maya Tskitishvili, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia; and Anila Denaj, Minister of Economy and Finance of Albania, who were welcomed by EBRD First Vice President Jürgen Rigterink.

Mattia Romani, EBRD Managing Director, Economics, Policy and Governance Department, presented the Rapid Advisory Response framework - a new service to support the implementation of policies that will help mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic by leveraging the EBRD’s own resources and its network of policy makers and experts.

In panels which brought together business, the EBRD and IC representatives, participants discussed the support the ICs have already provided in response to the crisis, lessons learned and the way forward. Members of the EBRD’s SME Finance & Development Group and Legal Transition Team also joined to discuss the role the Bank can play to support specific initiatives.

As the discussions clearly showed, effective dialogue between the government and the private sector – facilitated by ICs – is important under normal circumstances, but has proven crucial in supporting governments during and after Covid-19. Discussing the way forward, participants noted that particularly SME support, e-commerce and digitalisation should be core to any policy response and will be essential to support the economic recovery – now and in the long term.

The EBRD supports the ICs through secretariats, which coordinate and facilitate the work of the councils. They also provide economic and legal analysis and advice to support the work of the councils and support reform efforts. In total, over 50 experts and staff are working in 12 secretariats in Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Montenegro, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The Investment Councils are funded with support from the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund, the EBRD Multi-donor Account for Ukraine, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the UK Good Governance Fund.
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