Skopje, 21st August 2012 (MIA) – Macedonia was officially granted EUR 46.4 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, by which, starting next year, the construction of Kumanovo-Beljakovce section, which should connect our country with Bulgaria, will commence.

Loan Agreement was signed by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zoran Stavreski and EBRD Director for Transport Sue Barrett today.

Conditions under which EBRD grants the loan to Macedonia, as Stavreski pointed out, are exceptionally favourable, with 15-year repayment period and 4-year grace period. Interest rate for the loan is six-month EURLIBOR plus 1 percent, amounting to 1.7% at present.

Project envisages rehabilitation of the eastern part of Railroad Corridor 8 at Kumanovo- Beljakovce section, covering 30.8 km. Construction will start in the first quarter of 2013 and it will end in 2017, while the works will be coordinated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Public Enterprise Macedonian Railways Infrastructure.

According to Vice Prime Minister Stavreski, railroad to Bulgaria will finally become a reality, and the benefits will include increased competitiveness of Macedonia, lower transport costs and alternative transport route for the economy.

– After 20 years of promises and commenced but uncompleted projects, i.e. commenced project, not being fully completed and being only loss of funds, this Government has finally provided funds for realizing one of the most important transport corridors for construction of the railroad from Kumanovo to Beljakovce, the second phase of the projects, which includes construction of the railroad from Beljakovce to Kriva Palanka, and the third phase covering the part from Kriva Palanka to the border with the Republic of Bulgaria. This will provide for increasing the competitiveness of Macedonia, transport of goods and people at lower costs, as well as another alternative transportation route for Macedonian manufacturers and companies, Stavreski said at the signing of the Agreement.

He assessed that the fact that the Project is being realized in cooperation with EBRD as significant and known international partner gives credibility that this time, unlike the 90s when it was unsuccessful, it will be fully completed and Macedonia will obtain another transportation corridor, Stavreski emphasized, reminding that several transportation projects have been realized in Macedonia with EBRD funds, such as Regional and Municipal Roads Rehabilitation Project, Construction of Corridor X Motorway Section, Demir Kapija-Smokvica and Macedonia- Bulgaria Power Transmission.

EBRD Director for Transport Sue Barrett pointed out that putting the railroad corridor in function is a strategic move for Macedonia, which will provide access and shorter route to the harbours at the Black Sea, as well as acceleration of the regional connections. Completion of this Corridor will both open new trade route and improve the regional integration in favour of growth of Macedonia and its neighbours. This is expected to stimulate the regional economy as well, since the flow of transport will be easier, Barrett announced.

Project is also supported by grant in the amount of EUR 4 million, provided through the EU Investment Programme in the Western Balkans. These funds are intended for preparing project documentation, tender preparation and assistance during the implementation. Under this Project, energy management system will be also introduced, which will be supported with EUR 175,000 as grant, provided by the Central European Initiative.

Minister of Transport Mile Janakieski informed that the overall documentation has been already prepared and it is expected for tender for selection of construction company for Kumanovo-Beljakovce section to be announced in the middle of next month.

– In addition, Government continues to be committed to providing funds and the necessary technical documentation for the other parts of the railroad. Funds have been already provided, and they will be used for supervising the works at Kumanovo-Beljakovce section, and tender for selection of consultant to design the projects for Beljakovce – Kriva Palanka section, has been announced. It is expected for these activities to be completed by 2015 and for the construction works to start, Janakieski said.

So far, EBRD has invested over EUR 1 billion in more than 80 projects in Macedonia.

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