Larisa Manastirli, Head of EBRD Resident Office in Kyrgyzstan, discusses the bank’s local projects and goals.
European Times: What are the EBRD’s activities in Kyrgyzstan?
Larisa Manastirli: We have launched 87 projects so far with a combined budget of more than €414 million. Our latest country strategy focuses on four key areas: critical infrastructure, the financial sector, private enterprise, and policy reforms. Concerning municipal infrastructure, the EBRD provided its first loan to the municipality of Bishkek and the Bishkek Water Company to enhance the city’s water-supply network back in 2009. Since that time we have built quite a strong pipeline of projects for the municipal sector in the fields of water supply, waste-management and public transport, among others. We have already committed to two more water-system projects in southern Kyrgyzstan and we plan to finance new trolley busses for Bishkek. We want to cover the whole country.
European Times: What about the financial sector?
Larisa Manastirli: The EBRD is probably the biggest private investor in this sector in Kyrgyzstan. We are working with eight institutions, including commercial banks and micro-finance organisations. We are shareholders and lenders for KICB and Demir Bank, the largest private banks in the country. Concerning micro-financing, which is very important in Kyrgyzstan, we are promoting better supervision, consolidation and responsible lending practices. The EBRD was also the first international financial institution to provide loans in the local currency, and we are working with the National Bank to develop a local capital market.
European Times: What kinds of support do you provide the private sector?
Larisa Manastirli: We are working with companies in every sector of the economy. We are trying to show the Kyrgyz authorities that the way they treat foreign investors will influence other potential investors. The private sector has been plagued by problems, but many companies are operating to high standards and also giving back to local communities. Kyrgyzstan needs to promote such companies. The EBRD sees great potential in mining, agriculture and agro-processing, the energy sector, tourism, manufacturing and many other areas.
European Times: How does the EBRD support the government?
Larisa Manastirli: We work with different institutions to improve regulatory frameworks and the overall business climate in Kyrgyzstan. We encourage public-private partnerships.
European Times: Why should European investors target Kyrgyzstan?
Larisa Manastirli: Kyrgyzstan has enormous potential and many brilliant investment opportunities which offer great growth rates you will not see in matured economies. There are risks here, but the returns are higher.