The Salvadoran government shows a strong interest and commitment to promoting sustainable projects, said José Manuel Otero, head of operations for Central America of the European Investment Bank (EIB), within the framework of the first Investment Forum on digital transformation, green transition in renewable energies and urban transport, organized by the Embassy of the European Union (EU) in the country.
According to Otero, the EIB, considered the largest multilateral lender and borrower in the world, focuses its financing and technical assistance on green agenda projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable transport and agriculture. In this sense, in 2021, an initiative of this type was approved in the country by the Development Bank of El Salvador (Bandesal), the first for the nation by the European organization.
The loan contract with Bandesal was for $40 million, with two aspects: support for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) affected by COVID-19, and financing for companies that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
“Bandesal is proving to be a very solid partner, with high and exacting standards. That is what we are looking for, that the requirements that we ask for from the technical, social, and environmental point of view can be met” — said the bank executive in relation to the performance of the investment.
To date, more than 25% of the total disbursed in this line, equivalent to $10.4 million, in which there has been strong participation in the area of support for MSMEs affected by the pandemic.
“I think we have established a very strong cooperation between both institutions (Bandesal and the EIB) and a commitment to make this go well, and that it is only the first of several,” he stressed.
The good performance of the first bet opens the door for more financing in the country, both with Bandesal and other government actors, according to Otero. Even within the framework of the forum, the delegate has managed to meet with several ministers and claims to have identified many investment opportunities in fields such as sustainable mobility, promotion of renewable energies, energy efficiency, and water and sanitation projects.
On the other hand, he pointed out that, despite the fact that the EIB has had a presence in the region for several decades, no financing with the country had been approved until last year because the appropriate bet had not been found, nor was there interest in receiving funds from previous administrations.
According to the representative, in previous years there were approaches, but to access their funds there must be a clear commitment because their standards are demanding, an element that he did not perceive.
«Now we have had that commitment, and before it did not happen. Work has been done here and it is a clear example of commitment, both with Bandesal and with the Ministry of Finance, of strong cooperation» — he pointed out.