LPJ INTERVIEW: Vedrana Jelusic Kasic, EBRD Director for Croatia
You were appointed Director of the EBRD for Croatia just over a year ago. What have been your most important activities during this period?
The main focus has been on developing a pipeline of projects in the private and public sector. Last year, we signed 19 projects worth close to €290m, compared to 13 projects worth €210m in 2012.
As of the end of June 2014, we have already completed 11 transactions with a total value exceeding €120m and the majority of investments going into the private sector.
Our engagement covers the full range of the Croatian economy and includes sectors like agribusiness, district heating, industry, municipal infrastructure, financial institutions and tourism.
In parallel, we have been developing and are supporting a series of new initiatives:
(a) We offered input to the preparation of the draft factoring legislation and subsequently signed two credit lines totalling €35m to Raiffeisen Leasing.
(b) The framework for energy efficiency projects (“Webseff II”) in the public and private sector was developed and under this framework we extended credit lines to Zagrebacka banka for €20m in July and to Erste Bank for €10m in February this year benefiting from the EU grants.
(c) In May, we developed a €100m framework to support the leasing sector in Croatia as a way of increasing SMEs access to finance. As a result we expect to finalise two credit lines to leasing companies by the end of October this year.
(d) The Bank also supported the development of Geographical Indications for food products (e.g. Neretva valley’s mandarins and Baranja’s “kulen” sausage) in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the FAO and the company Agrokor to boost the local agribusiness sector.
How are you planning to assist Croatia to use EU funds?
The EBRD has many years of experience in helping countries use EU funds…