Zoran Martinovski, the International Finance Corporation’s Country Manager for Macedonia and Montenegro, discusses the support the IFC is providing for Macedonia’s economic development. Acting as the private sector’s arm of the World Bank Group, IFC is the largest, truly global, international financial institution that supports private sector development through provision of financial and advisory services. The IFC has been present in Macedonia since the mid-1990s and has financed projects in the banking, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, textiles, tourism and energy sectors. Current IFC’s outstanding portfolio in Macedonia totals around €94.7 million.
European Times: What are the benefits of working with the IFC?
Zoran Martinovski: The IFC’s role is to complement private sector investments and activities of commercial banks and Investment funds. We offer long-term financing next to global and in-house expertise. The fact that IFC has preferred creditor status is another benefit from working with IFC.
European Times: What are some of your current projects in Macedonia?
Zoran Martinovski: Our current exposure is mostly in financial markets, infrastructure, energy and real sector through our regional investment projects. One of our biggest projects was a post-privatisation loan for electricity utility EVN to modernise Macedonia’s electricity-transmission system. Being strongly committed to supporting SMEs, our involvement in the banking sector includes both support for local banks and several credit lines for SMEs. With a very active trade-finance programme aimed at enhancing regional and international trade, we are also considering offering sector-specific credit lines for renewable energy and agribusiness projects. Advising the government on the Chebren hydropower plant and on a public-private partnership for the Corridor 8 road, we try to be proactive rather than reactive.
European Times: What are the IFC’s goals for Macedonia in 2014?
Zoran Martinovski: The World Bank Group’s main objective is to address poverty reduction and increase shared prosperity. The IFC-World Bank Country Partnership Strategy for Macedonia was recently published, in which unemployment is at the top of the list of challenges to face. We will continue to support local banks, infrastructure projects, and the government’s efforts to attract FDI.
European Times: What is your personal message to investors?
Zoran Martinovski: Macedonia’s GDP growth has been strong compared to neighbouring countries and the government has done a good job in attracting FDI. Macedonia offers some unique investment opportunities, including its potential as a steppingstone to European markets and its abundant skilled and inexpensive labour. Investors with a long-term vision should take a close look at Macedonia.