European Investment Bank Group injects 2.15 bln USD to Greece in 2018

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DELPHI, Greece, March 1 (Xinhua) -- European Investment Bank (EIB) Group provided 1.9 billion euros (2.15 billion U.S dollars) for new private sector, energy and urban investment across Greece in 2018, bank official announced here on Friday.

Approximately 1.57 billion euros were released by the EIB and 328 million euros by the European Investment Fund, said Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President responsible for lending operations in Greece, at the ongoing 4th Delphi Economic Forum.

The annual platform of dialogue at Delphi, 120 kilometers northwest of Athens, which ancient Greeks considered the navel of the world, has attracted some 400 speakers from 32 countries and 2,500 participants this year exchanging views on the "Challenge of inclusive growth", the main theme of the four-day event.

During a press conference, EIB Group officials presented the latest figures showing how Greece has been supported to return to growth, after experiencing a severe debt crisis in the past decade.

Greece was the leading European beneficiary of new financing under the European Fund for Strategic Investments when measured by GDP in 2018, while a total of 17.4 billion euros have been allocated by the EIB since 2008, McDowell said.

Outlining the rationale behind the focus of the aid provided, the EIB official underlined that enabling private sector investment is crucial for economic growth and job creation.

Regarding investments in energy he stressed how improving energy infrastructure and backing clean energy projects is critical to promoting energy efficiency and security of energy supply across Europe.

"Energy has been a particular priority given some of the challenges as part of the reform program for Greece, but also the broader energy transition challenges for not just Greece, but Europe as a whole," McDowell said.

In this context, the EIB is financing among others the Greek section of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which aims to give Western Europe access to natural gas from Azerbaijan.

After investing in projects supporting youth employment in the past years, boosting female entrepreneurship will be one of the key goals in EIB's funding in Greece in the future, said Peter Jacobs, head of Investment Team for Greece.

"We are going to add a new dimension to our credit lines to the banks which are normally focused on SMEs lending. This time we are going to say ok... On top of that we would like it to be an encouragement to female entrepreneurship," he explained.

At the opening of the Forum on Thursday, Greek Economy and Development Minister Yiannis Dragasakis said institutions such as the Hellenic Development Bank, which is soon to be founded under draft legislation slated to reach the parliament later this spring, are necessary for planning growth.

McDowell welcome the idea that Greece will establish a national development bank.

More than 25 percent of total EIB Group financing in recent years has been done through national development banks, he noted, adding that the institution is most helpful in countries like Greece where commercial banks are being restructured and there is a gap to fill in terms of financing for private enterprise. (1 euro= 1.14 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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