The European Investment Bank (EIB) Monday, February 5, granted Syria a 115 million-euro ($102 million) loan for its electricity sector.
The loan should finance "the building of 40 sub-stations for the distribution of electricity, which represents a 25 percent increase", Syrian Electricity Minister Munib bin Assad Saem said during the signing ceremony.
This project "will improve distribution and will cut losses", he said, adding the loan "reflects the strength of relations and cooperation" between Syria and the European Union (EU).
EIB's director for the Mediterranean, Antonello Pugliese, said it was "the EIB's biggest single financing project with a Mediterranean country in years".
Saem also announced the EIB had donated 11 million euros ($9.8 million ) to "reform management in the electricity sector".
The agreement for this subsidy is due to be signed when European Commission President Romano Prodi visits Syria on February 9.
These European funds have to be used in a reformed electricity sector "aimed at increasing the productivity and efficiency of services, which are crucial to the continuity of economic development", Pugliese added.
He said both the EU and the EIB were willing to invest in other sectors in Syria, such as environment, infrastructure and energy. Financial cooperation between the EU and Syria had gained new life in December when the EIB granted Damascus 75 million euros ($66 million), also to bolster its electricity sector.
The EIB's activities in Syria had been suspended since 1992, following a German veto over Syria's debt. Germany lifted the veto in October—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )