EBRD Offers Financial Aid to New Ukrainian Government

BELGRADE, Serbia -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) promised to provide Ukraine's new government with finance to strengthen the country's banking system, upgrade infrastructure and improve the climate for investors.

"Having successfully come through a difficult political test, Ukraine is now taking important steps towards integrating into the European and world economy," the EBRD said in its latest strategy update of the country, unveiled on the closing day of the bank's annual conference in the Serbian capital.

"The EBRD, a major investor in the country (Ukraine), having already invested 1.7 billion euros (2.1 billion dollars) through 67 projects, can play an important role in supporting Ukraine in this process," the bank said Monday.

Founded in 1991 to assist the transition of former communist nations to market economies, the EBRD operates in 27 countries covering southeastern and central eastern Europe, the Baltic states and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Regarding Ukraine, it said it would support the private sector by encouraging and sharing risk with foreign direct investors and increasing investment in large local manufacturing, maturities, as well as promote syndications.

It added that it would actively support consolidation in Ukraine's banking sector by providing equity finance and the bank would support the restructuring and modernisation of Ukraine's roads, railways, harbours and airports, as well as energy sectors.

The EBRD's two-day meeting was to close later Monday, having centred on its investment projects in Balkan countries, some of which were hoping to be accepted into the European Union before the end of the decade.

Ukraine's West-leaning president Viktor Yushchenko was elected in December following a peaceful revolution that saw the overthrow of a pro-Russian government.

Source: AFP