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In times of pandemic, EU helps companies in North Macedonia become more competitive and homes ‘greener’

13/01/2021 - 21:42
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With loans distributed through commercial banks, the European Union, EBRD and other donors are supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to reach EU standards and become more competitive while, at the same time being more environmentally friendly. There is also assistance for home-owners to make their buildings more energy efficient.

 

At a time when private businesses and citizens in North Macedonia are feeling the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing loans totalling 3.5 million euros to ProCredit Bank Skopje to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and environment-friendly construction.

The first part of the financial package consists of a 2.5 million euro-loan to increase the competiveness of local SMEs. Funds will help businesses upgrade their production processes and equipment in line with EU standards, in particular with regards to product quality and safety, health and safety measures and environmental preservation. These investments are covered by the Western Balkans SME Competitiveness Support Programme, for which the EBRD provides loans and the EU incentive payments (essentially, the EU covers 15% of the loans and the beneficiaries have to pay back 85% of the credit).

Ambassador David Geer, Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia, said: “Given the economic impact of the pandemic, providing small and medium sized enterprises with more favourable access to finance is of utmost importance. This joint EU and EBRD programme complements other shorter term governmental measures - which the EU is also supporting - designed to preserve jobs and companies. It does so by providing resources for green capital investment. The combination of loan and grant, which characterises this programme, has proven to be an effective way of encouraging companies to look beyond the immediate crisis and both plan and invest for the future.”

The second part is a 1 million euro-loan to support individual investments in green materials, equipment and technologies for privately-owned residential buildings. It comes under the Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF), which offers energy and resource-efficient solutions to build a greener and more sustainable economy. The programme is supported by the EU, the Western Balkans Investment Framework and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance. Under the same programme, green investments in the country’s residential sector are supported by another 1 million euro-loan that the EBRD is providing to Komercijalna Banka Skopje. The EU covers part of these loans, too, by turning 15% to 35% of the investments into grants. Similar loans, also meant for municipalities and companies, are being provided through three other local banks (Sparkasse, Ohridska Banka and NLB).

 

 

Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia, said: “We are pleased to expand our green activities in North Macedonia […]. Supporting green investments is one of our key priorities […]. Connected to this, overcoming the coronavirus pandemic and building back the economy are also our focus. Green recovery is one of the ways to heal the economy and this loan is a step in that direction.”

As of the end of December 2020, GEFF in North Macedonia has provided loans of more than 12 million euros for more than 1,600 individual projects contributing to savings of over 8 million kWh of energy and a reduction of over 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. The most frequently financed technologies are environmentally-friendly windows and doors, insulation and heat pumps.

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