The Country Manager for Serbia at the European Investment Bank (EIB), Anna Solecki, and the director of the Public Investment Management Office, Marko Blagojevic, signed an agreement on the financing of water supply system projects in the amount of EUR 50 million, whereby the said systems will be upgraded in 25 local self-governments, on Friday, July 12, 2019.

After the signing of the agreement at the Government of Serbia, Blagojevic said that, of the total amount of EUR 50 million, eight EU states were donating EUR 40 million, whereas the amount of EUR 10 million came as a loan from the EIB.

– This money will be used to replace asbestos pipes and reduce the system losses, which amount to over 70% in certain places – Blagojevic said.

He added that automatic management would be implemented and that the networks would secure the supply over the next several decades.

He said that around 60 local self-governments had been selected for potential financing and that they had started preparing the project documentation, and added that, in the first phase, the systems in up to 25 local self-governments would be upgraded and that there were negotiations about a loan of another EUR 200 million for the upgrade of water supply systems, water treatment facilities and sewer systems.

– In the first phase, the local self-governments which prepare the project documentation the fastest will get the money – Blagojevic said.

The EIB’s Regional Head of Office for the Western Balkans, Dubravka Negre, said that the donation of eight EU states of EUR 10 million was the biggest donation for the Western Balkans up till then.

– The credit and the donation will help provide water supply systems for around 600,000 people. This is not the only EIB project in Serbia. We are financing 300 projects, among which are Corridor 10, clinical centers in Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad, research and development, small and medium companies – Negre said.

The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, said that “water quality is of key importance for the populace of Serbia and a part of environmental reforms on the country’s way to joining the EU”.

– With the donation of EUR 10 million, European countries are providing coordinated support as EU states – Fabrizi said.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic thanked all the countries for the donation, especially Italy and Poland, which are making the largest individual donations, and said that “water supply is a huge problem in all local self-governments”.

She said that “we live in the time of climate change and water is one of the most important resources we are wasting, as losses on water supply systems exceed 70% in some local self-governments”.

– It’s also important to upgrade the water supply systems in order to have public enterprises operating in a sustainable manner – Brnabic said.

The EIB loan, according to her, is vary favorable. It was taken for a period of 30 years, with a grace period of five years and an annual interest rate of 1.5%.