The European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting with EUR 40 million the refurbishment and upgrading of municipal water facilities in Georgia. The EIB loan will help to maintain the continuity of the water supply, reduce water leakages in the water supply system and improve water quality across 28 cities in Georgia.

EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer, who signed the project agreement today with Mr Archil Tsabutashvili, General Director of the United Water Supply Company of Georgia, and Mr. Giorgi Somkhishvili, Executive Director of the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia, stated: “A reliable water supply is a prerequisite for accelerated social and economic development. I welcome very much that the EIB is contributing to increase the living standards of the citizens of Georgia in this manner.”

The signing ceremony took place on the margins of the EU-Georgia Investment Conference, focusing on the country’s investment prospects following its decision to sign an Association Agreement including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU

The operation will benefit from a Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) investment grant of EUR 8 million, also signed today by the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

This is already the second EIB operation supporting the upgrade and rehabilitation of Georgia’s water sector. In 2010 the Bank signed a loan of EUR 40 million also supported by technical assistance and investment grants by NIF to finance a project, currently close to completion, resulting in significant improvements to water supply infrastructure in 31 Georgian towns. The rehabilitation of the water sector is in parallel financed by the Asian Development Bank.

The Bank is also ready to support the Georgian Government in its future efforts to modernise and upgrade the sector. Preliminary discussions on the next phase of the rehabilitation programme have just been launched with the Georgian authorities.

The EIB has to date signed loans of nearly EUR 500 million in Georgia for projects in the energy, transport and water sectors, and – indirectly through commercial banks – operations supporting SMEs.