Банкеръ Weekly



After specifying the legislative regulations and structure and raising capital for more than two years, the Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) officially began operations on Wednesday (February 8). Our direct aim will be to finance energy-saving projects in Bulgaria, and our moral purpose - to encourage actions in that direction as a whole, EEF Management Board Chairman Lyulin Radoulov said at the official opening. The fund is an independent juristic person, uniting the functions of a bank, a guarantee fund, and a consultancy company. Its initial capital is BGN20MN, gathered through donations from the World Bank, the governments of Bulgaria and Austria, and several private Bulgarian companies.
The main conditions which the projects should meet in order to get financing are: to be worth between BGN30,000 and BGN3MN, at least 10% of the funds should be ensured by the executor, and the term of return to be less than 5 years. The loans can be extended to municipalities, juristic persons, small firms and natural persons. The best terms are offered for credits to local authorities. The interest rate for the first year of repayment is 0%, and between 2.5-5% for each year afterwards. Grace periods for repayment of principle are up to one year. Small firms will enjoy the same terms with the only difference that the interest rate after the first year will reach some 6-9 per cent. Juristic persons will be able to draw loans with a 0% interest rate for the first six months, and between 4-7% afterwards.
All three groups of applicants for credits, however, will get quite a substantial bonus. No fees for researching the project and no annual fee for servicing the loan are payable, and no punitive interest for repayment of the credit in advance is imposed.
The joint research we did with the EU showed there were many feasible projects in your country. I hope the fund will help to realize common initiatives under the mechanisms of the Kyoto protocol as well, said Austria's Ambassador to Bulgaria, H. E. Karl Diem.
Despite the delay of its official opening, the fund has already financed four energy efficiency projects: for rehabilitation of a kindergarten in Vratsa, for replacement of the street lights in the Krichim municipality, for construction of cogeneration (combined production of electricity and heating energy) in the Ovcha Koupel local heating station, and reconstruction of a hospital and a kindergarten in Loukovit by the Toplogas Engineering company. Another 28 energy-saving projects are being assessed now, said Tasko Ermenkov, head of the Energy Efficiency Agency.

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