BDB gathered leading European financiers, bankers and politicians at the forum "Infrastructure for Growth“.
The main topic of the Infrastructure for Growth Forum, organized by the Bulgarian Development Bank on 17 April 2018 in Sofia was the strategic investment in the infrastructure of the country and the Balkans as a major factor for economic growth and a platform for economic activity.
The infrastructure sector is aligned with the economic cycle and it’s going through stable economic recovery period. Bulgaria can lay the foundations for a new infrastructure investment cycle. In order to attract more foreign investment and maintain the macroeconomic stability after the decrease in EU funding after 2020, the government should set its infrastructure priorities with financing sourses and terms and conditions.
Over the last 10 years, the BDB Group, including the National Guarantee Fund and the Microfinance Institution "Jobs", have done a lot for the development of small and medium-sized businesses. Pursuing its mission, BDB became an important partner of the European Investment Bank under the Juncker Plan with a program of indirect financing for SMEs through commercial banks. EUR 300 million have already been made available to commercial banks in Bulgaria to build new SME and up to 3,000 employees mid caps’ loan portfolios. The loan facilities, which BDB gives, cover up to 100% of credit risk, and are a major factor for the program's high interest.
The roads, railways, up-to-date transport communications and urban infrastructure are a platform for economic activity and connectivity. A survey made recently by the Ministry of Transport and Communications on the necessary investments to connect the countries of the Western Balkans and to build corridors showed that the total amount of funds for the construction of all rail links in the region amounted to 43 bln. Euro. The expansion of the railway network to the west of Bulgaria, following the largest freight flows in the region, will significantly facilitate trade in South Eastern Europe.
The EU Council Presidency of Bulgaria enabled the BDB Forum to focus on the synergy between European funds, the Investment Plan for Europe and the resources of the National Development Banks. The support of development banks from the region through investments in connecting energy, communication and transport infrastructure between the countries in Southeast Europe is the exact dimension of the European perspective that we can also give to the Western Balkans.
The invited participants in the BDB Forum included politicians, financiers, bankers, representatives of national and international development banks. Among the foreign guests were representatives of the European Fund for Strategic Investment, European Association of Public Banks, Investment Plan for Europe, European Association of Long-Term Investors, European Investment Bank and Commercial Banks. The holding of the event coincided with the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Bulgarian Development Bank Act, as well as with its reorganization as a national bank with a mandate for the economy development. With this forum, the Bank launched a dialogue between all involved parties to achieve economic prosperity and stability in the region. The Forum was closed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between:
∙ The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank
∙ The International Investment Bank
∙ The Croatian Development Bank
∙ The Hungarian Development Bank
∙ The Macedonian Development Bank
∙ The Bulgarian Development Bank
The establishment in Sofia of a joint project development center for the region could be the next step for co-operation between the financial institutions and governments. In this center, the countries could exchange information and develop their skills in project preparation and implementation. This was one of BDB's proposals to the European financial institutions and development banks visiting the Forum – pooling together the project capacity of countries and financial institutions. With expert and consultant assistance, the Center could become a regional agency for cooperation in the field of the infrastructure to offer the implementation of specific projects.
The region needs a common information data base and constant communication between experts and consultants to propose and enable the implementation of major projects - without accumulating debt from individual governments and increasing their efficiency. If the Center achieves its goals, an international regional agency for cooperation and development can also be established on this basis in order to increase its capacity.