RAIFFEISENBANK BULGARIA EXTENDS CREDITS UNDER SAPARD
Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria is the first local crediting institution which is successully financing farmers for the purchase of agricultural equipment under the EU's SAPARD programme. Just two weeks after the official start of SAPARD, the first ten agricultural projects were approved by the Zemedelie (Agriculture) State Fund and received the necessary credits from commercial banks. The projects are worth a total of BGL4,356,269. Half of these funds will be granted by SAPARD. Seven of the farmers, utilizing the EU subsidy, are co-financed by Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria. At the official presentation of the purchased farming machines in Rousse on June 15 the Manager of the Austrian bank's local branch office Marin Marinov personnaly handed the keys for the new equipment to the new owners. According to Mr. Marinov, the achieved expeditiousness can be ragarded as a considerable success. The imported machines are combine harvesters, tractors and tractor-driven equipment, bearing the world-famous trade names John Dear and Klass.
Although Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria has not signed a memorandum for crediting agricultural producers under SAPARD, most of the approved projects have received financial support from that bank. According to Daniel Velichkov, Corporate Banking Manager in Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria, the clients under SAPARD have drawn standard loans from the bank putting in pledge the new farming machines and wheat, additionally. The closed contracts envision a 3-month term for repayment of half of the credit, financed by SAPARD. Mr Velichkov told the BANKER weekly this could be done even within a month. The farmers who received money from the bank have not been its clients so far, but the recommendations from the official importers of agricultural equipment tipped the balance when evaluating their arguments.
Only three Bulgarian banks have so far signed memoranda for crediting farmers, applying under the pre-accession EU programme. These are First Investment Bank, Biochim commercial bank, and UNIONBANK. HEBROSBANK and Bulgaria Invest commercial bank are expected to sign memoranda by the end of next week at the latest.