Podgorica – The State Investment and Development Fund (IDF) with international partners has secured at least EUR 150 million, which will be placed in the economy under favorable conditions during this year, announced its executive director, Irena Radović.
“For these needs, we have available arrangements with our international financial partners: the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Development Bank of the Council of Europe (CEB) and the French Development Agency (AFD). EIB loans are intended for entrepreneurs, micro, small, medium and medium capitalized, as well as public companies and local governments, but also for infrastructure and environmental projects, and climate action projects,” said Radović.
She announced that projects aimed at meeting environmental protection goals, such as energy efficiency, reduction of gas emissions that cause the “greenhouse garden” effect, investment in renewable energy sources, general resource efficiency, and protection of healthy ecosystems in Montenegro Gori, to be in focus in the coming years.
“The credit arrangement with CEB is intended for the realization of infrastructure and water supply projects, waste water treatment, environmental protection, but also the encouragement of projects of local, regional and national importance with a special focus on uniform regional development,” explained Radović.
The contract with the French AFD finances green projects as well as vulnerable segments with difficult access to finance – women and young people, as well as infrastructure projects in underdeveloped parts of the country.
Radović said that, in addition, IRF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, at the end of last year, initiated the process of negotiations with CEB for the continuation of financial support to entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, as well as businessmen within professional associations, who have limited access finances.
“Listening to the needs of clients and the recommendations of international partners, we revised, with the aim of simpler and more efficient communication with users, credit support programs for this year, which are already available to businessmen,” said Radović.
She announced that the IRF, in accordance with the Annual Work Plan for this year, will continue with investment support for projects that improve the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized businesses and contribute to the preservation of existing and the creation of new jobs.
“Additional care will be taken to ensure that the offer is stimulating for the development of entrepreneurship, especially through support for special target groups – women, young people, individual agricultural producers and other vulnerable categories that have difficult access to finance.” “Supporting balanced regional development through infrastructure development is an extremely important mechanism that the IRF, in cooperation with relevant ministries and municipalities, will strive to further improve during this year,” said Radović.
She said that all IRF plans are based on the integration of green and digital transition, which as horizontal components have an impact on most sectors.
Radović stated that the IRF is the financial pivot of the development of the Montenegrin economy and the most important partner of the Montenegrin economy.
“Although, as a development financial institution, making a profit is not a goal that we set as a priority in business, I am proud of the fact that IRF, after a negative business result in 2020, caught a good momentum and now, for the second year in a row, is achieving a positive business result Radović said.
She added that the IRF rounded off the calendar year with more than EUR 183 million placed in Montenegrin companies and entrepreneurs, of which 93 percent went to the private sector, while seven percent went to companies owned by the state and local self-governments.
According to the expressed demand, the most funds were placed in the trade and service sectors, so the current structure of the IRF portfolio according to activities is: agriculture and food production ten percent, manufacturing activity 20 percent, trade 15 percent, tourism and catering 27 percent and service activities 28 percent .
“This was an exceptional year for the IRF, which was also marked by numerous awards and recognitions awarded to the institution. Last year was a year dedicated to the support and development of the Montenegrin economy, with a special emphasis on vulnerable categories, above all the strengthening of female entrepreneurship and support for young people. This was recognized by the Montenegrin economy, so their representative representatives, the Union of Employers, presented us with an annual award for the contribution made to the development of MSMEs and female entrepreneurship in Montenegro,” announced Radović.
She also reminded that, as the executive director of the IRF, she was awarded the Legion of Honor by the decision of the President of France in November.
“I perceive the most prestigious French award, awarded for the first time on the territory of independent Montenegro, as a recognition of the values and results of the work of the IRF team headed by me.” I am also proud of the socially responsible attitude that IRF has shown this year, and that precisely our proactive approach, when it comes to women’s entrepreneurship, supporting young people, promoting ESG standards, contributed and strengthened new initiatives aimed at applying modern European standards and improving the competitiveness of Montenegrin companies”, said Radović.
She recalled that the previous two years were marked by the global health and security crisis and the continuous uncertainty of the business environment. However, despite strong inflationary pressures and unfavorable global trends, particularly pronounced since the middle of last year, IRF managed to maintain a quality offer on the market through financing programs with favorable interest rates.
“The average interest rate on approved loans last year was about three percent annually, both for the private sector and for companies owned by the state and local governments,” said Radović for local media.