International Conference of Investment Councils: Understanding challenges and opportunities to quickly support businesses and governments

June 3rd, 2020

2-3 June 2020

Virtual Conference of the Investment Councils supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 2020
“Supporting EBRD’s Countries of Operations in economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic: putting Investment Councils at the centre of the response”

The annual event brought together 12 EBRD-supported Investment Councils from Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Tunisia.

The conference was opened by EBRD’s First Vice President, Mr Jurgen Rigterink, who reconfirmed the support to the countries through EBRD’s Solidarity Package, aiming to combat the economic impact of Covid-19.

Albania’s Minister of Economy & Finance, Ms Anila Denaj (Chair of Albania Investment Council), highlighted the measures taken by the Albanian Government in response to the Covid-19 emergency situation focusing mainly on employment-related issues. She highlighted the role of policies for digitalization and promoting green economy, where EBRD can play a key role through business advisory services. Additionally, Ms Denaj emphasized the role of the IC as a consolidated platform for consultation and transparent discussion among the stakeholders.

President of AmCham in Albania (business representative member of AIC), Mr Enio Jaço praised the quick response of the Government and the effective communication of the measures. However, he underlined that the administrative processes that govern the relief mechanisms make difficult their implementation into practice. While confirming AIC as the only credible instrument in Albania that seems to honestly reflect the interests and feedback of both, the government (as a regulator) and the private sector, he called on this feedback to become more impactful and transposed in legislation.

Head of AIC Secretariat, Ms Diana Leka, provided an overview of the work carried out by AIC & Secretariat, with particular reference to the business survey conducted during March-May 2020, strongly supported by the business chambers and associations, achieving the participation of more than 800 businesses. Its preliminary findings fed the discussions in the AIC extraordinary meeting on 14 April 2020. She also mentioned that AIC Secretariat assisted businesses during the crisis with relevant information on legal dynamics via short summaries tailored and simplified for use especially by SMEs.

Other representatives of the EBRD presented work being carried out by different teams in the bank to support businesses and Governments such as the Rapid Advisory Response Framework aiming to support Governments with policy advice on urgent needs related to the pandemic crisis; advice to support business restructuring mitigating any eventual insolvency/liquidation issues that might arise due to the pandemic; webinars and customised advice tailored for SMEs; etc.

In her closing remarks, EBRD’s Director of Governance and Political Affairs, Ms Milica Delevic noted how the unfolding economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting unprecedented challenges. ICs are playing a central role in EBRD’s policy response to the crisis by continuing to facilitate public-private dialogue in order to ensure that response measures are designed to effectively meet the specific challenges that businesses are now faced with.

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In 2014, the EBRD launched the Investment Climate and Governance Initiative (ICGI) to complement the Bank’s approach to transition through strengthening governance across the countries where it invests.

A flagship product under the ICGI are the EBRD-supported Investment Councils (ICs), which aim to contribute to a positive business environment by providing a platform for public-private dialogue between the government, the private sector as well as and the donor community. The ICs are supported by a Secretariat, which is managed by the EBRD’s Governance and Political Affairs team within the EBRD’s Economics, Policy and Governance department.  Currently, the EBRD supports 12 Investment Councils across Eastern Europe and Caucasus, Western Balkans, Central Asia and Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.

Investment Council is supported by the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the EBRD and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)