Prishtina, 30 March 2020 – International financial institutions are identifying the most concrete needs and challenges of the private sector, in order to create the most appropriate tools to support businesses in overcoming the difficulties they are facing as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This was concluded during a virtual roundtable organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo with representatives of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Leonora Kusari, Principle Manager at EBRD Advice for Small Businesses, emphasized that since this bank focuses on the private sector, it has tried to respond quickly to issues related with liquidity and business transformation, considering the impact of the pandemic. She stated that EBRD’s solidarity package is worth 1 billion euros, and will primarily support existing partners, namely banks, businesses and governments, while remaining committed to developing other financial and advisory packages for the private sector. Kusari emphasized that the EBRD is trying to create adaptable instruments for each region in which it operates, particularly for the advisory part and the amount of dedicated funds.
Kusari stated that the EBRD is aiming at providing opportunities to support specific sectors simultaneously, however, the establishment of the mechanisms for relevant instruments is a time-consuming procedure. She also focused on the fact that identifying business problems is of particular importance to the bank, where she encouraged businesses to notify the EBRD regarding specific measures that they believe should benefit. Kusari informed previous clients that due to the pandemic, the EBRD will also provide assistance to companies which have previously been beneficiaries, a situation that would not be possible in other circumstances.
Blerta Qerimi, Senior Private Sector Specialist at The World Bank Office in Kosovo, emphasized that this institution is in continuous discussion with the Government to find the best ways for support during this period. She stated that the impact of the crisis will be enormous economically and socially, therefore, the most favorable opportunities to assist the private sector in the country should be considered. Qerimi emphasized that for the World Bank it is important to have a clear understanding of businesses’ problems so as to better respond to their demands, while emphasizing that the focus is on businesses that are closed and directly impacted by the restrictions imposed during the emergency phase, those that manufacture and export, those that are in a financial shock and are unable to pay their loans, as well as those with problems in the supply chain.
According to Qerimi, the World Bank is currently focused on two projects. One that is being implemented is about increasing the competitiveness and the export capability of businesses. Meanwhile, the other project, which is awaiting approval in the parliament, is about raising the capital of the Credit Guarantee Fund, which aims to facilitate lending and risk sharing between the lender and the borrower, especially for clients who will face a lack of collateral. In addition, Qerimi stressed that the World Bank is considering reorientation of about 10 million euros in funds to support businesses during this emergency phase.
During this roundtable, the panelists commended the business organizations which together have been the best mediators in conveying business requirements, while emphasizing their willingness to cooperate in solving private sector problems.