The energy sector will mark the next decade in the global economy

Interview

Vladimir Bošković, Head of the Department for small and medium enterprises

Sberbank currently has 33 branches in Serbia, 611 employees and nearly 69,000 clients. It is a financial institution which has been doing business in Russia for 170 years and is known as one of the most successful banks in the world. Sberbank provides services for individuals, but also for small, medium and large enterprises and we talked with Vladimir Bosković, Head of the Department for small and medium enterprises about that. We put special emphasis on the fact that this bank is one of few in Serbia which supports projects concerning energetics, environmental protection and energy efficiency. On the occasion of conference COP 21, straight from the horse’s mouth we find out how one successful bank operates in Serbia and what type of projects have been supported so far.

EP: In your opinion, why Sberbank has decided to support projects concerning energy efficiency, environmental protection and thus support economic development in Serbia?

_DSC7794Vladimir Bošković: Serbia as a country with limited energy resources has a lot of potential for saving, and improvement of energy efficiency is one of precondition for energy stability of the country as well as the economy in general. The energy sector became the most profitable and the most attractive sector for investment long time ago, and according to estimations of international financial institutions it will become the sector which will denote the following decades in global economy alongside with griculture. Given the current active experience in funding the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, Sberbank Serbia in its offer has all models necessary for financing the projects in this area thus giving concrete contribution to environmental protection. In cooperation with KfW (German Development Bank), we have invested more than 10 million EUR in more than 400 projects from earmarked credit line for the improvement of energy efficiency so far. By measuring concrete output our contribution expressed in units of measurement is nearly 20 million kWh per year of energy savings, as well as CO2 emission in the mount of 11 million tons per year.

EP: Which conditions should a private of legal person meet in order to obtain a loan from Sberbank?

Vladimir Bošković: Since this is an earmarked credit line, it represented an additional motive for us as a bank to offer far more favourable conditions than commercial, average conditions on the market to our clients. The only condition for clients was that each investment contributes to energy saving of minimum 20% accompanied by the reduction of CO2 in the same proportion. Our focus is private sector, and credit lines are designated for the stimulation of small and medium enterprises, as well as private individuals. The biggest part of implemented projects was related to the investment in building design and construction, and slightly less to the replacement of the equipment/ machines in production processes and the purchase of vehicles for the service and transportation sector. Bearing in mind potentials for investment, we also decided to direct our plans towards public sector and local self-government. The reason why we haven’t implemented more projects in local self-government sector lies in inadequate funding models, which can be surpassed in the near future by defining PPP (Public Private Partnership) as an adequate model of financing that would be acceptable for the banks and also for other participants in partnership. Legal framework has existed for a long time ago, but the reason of higher prudence of banks is still insufficient number of implemented projects done under this model.

EP: Can you find out, in direct contact with clients or potential clients from Serbia, to what extent do the clients understand the problem of global warming and climate change that are also themes of the conference COP21?

Vladimir Bošković: We are one of the first banks in the market which has introduced the credit lines for these projects and our main advantages are knowledge and experience. With the help of consultant teams, who have been an integral part of the implementation of the credit line together with KfW, we obtained certain knowledge and expertise that are necessary for active approach of our employees in sales so that they could be able to properly raise the awareness level among clients about the significance of investing in these projects. Employees have undergone several levels of energy efficiency, and some of them have gained additional knowledge, thus we formed an internal consulting team for energy efficiency whose primary role was the assess compliance with the criteria for financing, as well as constantly gaining knowledge in this area. The key factor is the implementation of legislation which will create a favorable ground for promotion and encourage further investments in this sector and that is what the experience of EU countries has indicated. We expect recent implementation of series of laws and bylaws which are in the process of implementation. I would mention only few of them: the announced amendments of the Law on Planning and Construction, full implementation of energy certification of buildings, the implementation of the Law on the Efficient Use of Energy which introduces the number of necessary measures for the increase of energy efficiency (I primarily refer to the ollection of heat energy according to the consumption in the distinct heating system), establishment of the energy management at the level of companies and local self-government, as well as many others.

Continuous work on raising of the awareness on energy efficiency and the importance of these investments for environmental protection, we confirm responsible business activity  through investing into these and similar projects in the energy sector.

Interview led by: Vesna Vukajlović