In many countries, state-owned enterprises represent a substantial part of the economy and are very significant in terms of employment and market capitalisation. The importance of state-owned enterprises is emphasised by the fact that they usually provide indispensable services to both the population and businesses. Consequently, good corporate governance of state-owned enterprises is critical to ensure their positive contribution to the economy, minimize fiscal risks and to improve their competitiveness, as well as to make them more resilient and attractive to clients. This is particular crucial for Belarus, where state-owned enterprises form a substantial part of the economy. Promotion of good corporate governance practices is part of the EBRD mandate. In its Country Strategy for Belarus, the Bank has committed to improve state-owned enterprises competitiveness and productivity. In September 2017, the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Belarus - represented by the State Committee on Property of the Republic of Belarus - and aimed at strengthening corporate governance of state-owned enterprises in Belarus. The EBRD efforts are also backed by the international community. A recent International Monetary Fund’s (“IMF”) Country Report for Belarus, the IMF mission “encouraged the Belarussian Government to accelerate and deepen structural reforms” and “urged implementation of a comprehensive reform strategy for state-owned enterprises to improve productivity and efficiency (…) including by implementing the policy to separate ownership and regulatory functions and strengthening the independence and capacities of state-owned enterprises’ boards”. On 9 November 2017, in its Concluding Statement the IMF mission noted that “Some important changes have already been made, but progress in many areas is slow and implementation has lagged, with a preference for pilot projects in the state-owned enterprises sector, rather than a more comprehensive approach”. On 7 December 2017, in a joint meeting with the State Property Committee, the EBRD, the IMF and the World Bank agreed that the EBRD will take the lead in this pilot project aimed at developing capacity to exercise ownership function at the level of a state-designated project company and enhancing corporate governance of a select state-owned enterprise to be transferred under its governance.
EBRD will take the lead in undertaking a legal and corporate governance review of Belavtodor group of companies and will simultaneously focus on organizing corporate governance structure of, and developing capacity to exercise ownership function by, a centralized ownership unit to be designated by the State Property Committee of the Republic of Belarus. An existing legal entity designated by the Government of Belarus - Republican Unitary Enterprise “Institute of Real Estate and Valuation” (the “State-owned Project Сompany”) is going to be corporatized into a joint-stock company and will serve as a pilot for the exercise of the State ownership function with respect to selected state-owned enterprises. After the foregoing transformation, this State-owned Project Сompany will test the centralized model for governance of state-owned enterprises for a larger-scale implementation. If the pilot project is successful, it might be replicated with other state-owned enterprises, including those to be managed by a centralized unit for governance of state-owned enterprises e.g., the State-owned Project Company and/or later on by an Asset Management Fund, which may be established, but not under this Project.
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