The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces a first EUR 70 million financing to support the continuation (phase B) of the major Sewerage and Drainage project over the whole Limassol district, on the Southern Coast of Cyprus. This is the first tranche of a EUR 100 million credit facility approved by the EIB.

The loan contract is being signed today in Athens, on the occasion of the EIB Forum 2006, by Dr Demetris Kontides, Chairman of the Sewerage Board of Limassol - Amathus (SBLA) and Mr Gerlando Genuardi, EIB Vice President, in the presence of Minister of Finance, Mr M. Sarris. The full investment programme supported by the EIB comprises the Limassol-Amathus Sewerage and Drainage Project, which is being implemented in several phases since 1992. Its main objective is to provide adequate provision of water management services to the 165 000 residents, businesses and tourism facilities all located in the Greater Limassol area including several villages northeast of Limassol.

The first phases - from 1992 to 2004 - covered the construction of sewerage networks in the town centre and main tourist areas, and of the wastewater treatment plant in the city of Moni. It also included house connections to the network, upgrade of the sewage system including pumping stations and construction of storm water drainage collectors.

The current project, namely Phase B' - to start in 2006 and to be completed in 2012, aims to enable SBLA to comply with national legislation, transposed from the EC Directive for Urban Wastewater in 2004 when Cyprus joined the European Union and which is required under the Accession Treaty. It also extends sewerage networks and infrastructure including new pumping stations and upgrading of existing ones, construction of retention reservoirs and drainage in a previously unserviced area.

Praising the operation at the signature ceremony, Mr Genuardi stated, The EIB is delighted by the positive relationship it enjoys with SBLA; the EIB was a partner already in 1995 with a first loan for the first phase of the programme. The Bank has become an important and reliable partner of Cyprus water and wastewater public authorities. Since the early days of the country's journey towards EU membership, the EIB has supported investments in the sector, by most, if not all the main urban communities in Cyprus.

This finance agreement with EIB shows the EIB's confidence in our ability to achieve such a programme stated Dr. Dr Demetris Kontides (SBLA), This loan which covers 47% of the costs of the project for a life of 27 years is of great importance for SBLA and for Cyprus, to build up an efficient and proper water network and the water management that we want, and in order to meet with the EC wastewater directives.

Since the 1980s, the water and sanitation sector has been a key area for EIB lending. The projects financed help to protect and safeguard the natural environment, support sustainable development and contribute to the welfare of the people concerned, as well as to regional development. Over the past five years these loans have amounted to nearly EUR 50 billion, of which EUR 7.7 billion for supporting projects within the EU-25 to improve water quality (catchments, treatment and distribution) and the management and processing of waste.

EIB activities in Cyprus

The EIB has provided finance for a number of projects in Cyprus since 1981 with over EUR 1.4 billion (more than 500 million since 2004). It has been involvedmainly in the Energy sector (electricity transmission and distribution), Health and Education (for the Nicosia Hospital, the University of Cyprus, and the primary and secundary education infrastructure enhancement), transport infrastructure (roads uprading, air-traffic sevices) and water management and wastewater treatment (a.o. in Nicosia, and Limassol). A few other projects of importance for the development of the country are being appraised by the EIB teams such as Pafos Sewerage, Larnaca Sewerage and Pafos-Polis PPP.