Odile Renaud-Basso, President of EBRD. Press photo: EBRD

In an extensive interview with Unian, the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD, tells about its future plans in Ukraine. She was appointed to the position back in October. 

The President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD, Odile Renaud-Basso, was recently on a two-day visit to Ukraine. She met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal to discuss how the bank can help Ukraine develop over the next few years. 

After the meetings, she told the Ukrainian news outlet Unian about what she hopes to accomplish in Ukraine over the next few years. Renaud-Basso pointed out that the EBRD has committed 2 billion euro in the last two years alone to the economy. 

“Our investments focus on strengthening energy efficiency and energy security, unlocking agricultural and industrial potential, providing quality infrastructure, and strengthening the financial sector. We combine investments with policy engagement in key areas such as administrative reform, transparent procurement, and the rule of law in order to overcome corruption,” Renaud-Basso told Unian

“We are strongly committed to supporting Ukraine’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Just like in 2020, all EBRD investments in the country this year will be dedicated to helping the economy overcome the impact of the coronavirus and emerge from it stronger,” she said, “…We will also spare no effort in support of policies that promote the fight against corruption, good governance in state-owned enterprises, structural reforms, and a transparent and predictable business environment.”

Focus on roads – among other things

In the interview, Renaud-Basso points out that EBRD in 2020 “launched a joint initiative to improve corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, starting with a pilot program to transform Ukravtodor, the state road agency.” EBRD has also worked with reforming UkrPoshta, the state post service with the focus on eliminating corruption. 

“In fact, our financing for state-owned enterprises is always conditional on improvements in corporate governance. We are already working with Naftogaz, Ukrenergo, and UkrPoshta, to strengthen the rules, practices, and processes by which these companies are managed, enhancing their performance and accountability,” Renaud-Basso said in the interview and added that the work in 2021 will be similar.

“Among our top priorities (in 2021) is developing a comprehensive program for state-owned enterprises and agencies to help fight corruption and reform procurement, following the pilot with Ukravtodor. We call upon all relevant parties to quickly resolve the situation around renewables to unlock financing for more projects,” she added and said that the EBRD also works on reducing the number of state-owned banks. 

“We welcome and encourage the reduction of the government’s share in the banking sector via privatization of state-owned banks. It is our intention to continue supporting the reform and transformation of the state-owned banks,” Renaud-Basso said. 

Troubles in 2021

While Renaud-Basso remains optimistic about the future of Ukraine in the long run, she is not so confident about a quick recovery from the pandemic. She expects the recovery growth in 2021 to be around three percent, but with a lot of uncertainty. The Ukrainian economy contracted around four to five percent in 2020. 

“Ukraine is an economy that needs to speed up its economic convergence with Central European peer countries. Doubling the size of GDP in the next ten years is a legitimate target that requires comprehensive policies to boost growth,” she says, “There is a huge potential in Ukraine, especially in its people and its youth. But pursuing the reform agenda is key for economic development. Structural weaknesses remain and weigh on the pace of economic growth while labor productivity remains below other countries in the region.”

“I hope that in 10 years’ time, Ukraine will be a country guided by the European Union values and standards, with a stronger rule of law, greater social cohesion and trust between citizens, greener economy and more gender and income equality.”