18.07.2012 [News]

Belarus: UNECE assessment of public-private-partnerships and seminars on financing innovation

On 9-13 July 2012 three international events were held in Minsk by the UN Economic Commission for Europe organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and State Committee for Science and Technology of Belarus. Rumen Dobrinsky, Head of the UNECE Economic Cooperation and Integration Division who chaired the UNECE delegation in Minsk said, all together they had formed a non-official UNECE week in Belarus.

The first two days, 9-10 July were devoted to presenting the results of the UNECE assessment of Belarus readiness for public-private partnership (PPP). The assessment was carried out by the UNECE PPP Readiness Team in spring 2012 upon the request of the Ministry of Economy of Belarus. The final report presented in Minsk within the two-day workshop contains recommendations and proposed areas where action is envisaged in order to ensure the smooth development of PPPs in Belarus. In particular, one of the key recommendations is to develop a national infrastructure plan to attract investment. It is a common international practice, e.g. many states in the US include in such a plan the infrastructure - transportation, sewage treatment, waste management, development of alternative energy, while the UK gives a priority to social projects - medicine, education, social and student housing. Another recommendation for Belarus is to create an agency for the introduction and development of the PPP mechanisms.

As Anton Kudasov, Deputy Minister of Economy of Belarus notes, the PPP is a relatively new tool in the arsenal of the state administration. In the road map for the liberalization of the Belarusian economy, the task of developing a legal framework enabling the implementation of mechanisms for PPP has been set up. The establishment of PPP is a priority for the Belarus Government, he said.

The UN is ready to promote the PPP mechanisms in Belarus.  According to UN resident coordinator/UNDP resident representative in Belarus Antonius Broek, the UNECE and UNDP have been working closely with the European Commission on developing a comprehensive project aimed at strengthening the capacity of Belarusian Government, regional authorities and the business community to promote PPPs in infrastructure and public sector. The project will cover all aspects needed to implement key recommendations identified in the readiness assessment, especially those relating to training of specialists and creating of an enabling environment for the PPP. "We sincerely recommend and hope that the Government will implement all necessary decisive legislative and regulatory initiatives in accordance with the proposed recommendations and would move vigorously towards building partnerships with the private sector", said Antonius Broek.

The other two events were devoted to financing of innovations. At the expert seminar on “Financing high-risk innovative projects”, 11 July with over 50 participants the leading international experts presented an overview of public policy instruments used in advanced marked economies to support high-risk innovative projects. The seminar included also a brainstorming session within which the options for improving the efficiency of the Belarusian Innovation Fund were discussed.

The seminar was held back-to-back with a training session on “Financing innovation in small businesses and start-up firms”, 12-13 July. The session was based on a computerized training module on early-stage financing developed by UNECE, specifically tailored to the nature and financing of innovative enterprises, including newly emerging ones, and their investment readiness. Around 20 managers of innovative SMEs, managers and residents of techno parks, as well as officials, managers and policy makers with responsibilities in the support of innovative enterprises have attended the training. More information about the seminar and training is available here and here.

The events on financing the innovations are part of the Joint Action Plan of the UNECE and the State Committee for Science and Technology of the Republic for 2012-2013 which provides for the assistance in implementation of the recommendations of the Innovation Performance Review of Belarus carried out by the UNECE in 2010.

Source: Olga Meerovskaya, BelIsa