Speech/statement | Date: 19/05/2008
Mr Chairman/Madam Chair, Mr President, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I should like to join a number of earlier speakers, in congratulating the EBRD with impressive financial results in 2007. The sound financial situation proves that the Bank is very professional in its field and houses a skilled staff.
The ongoing turbulence in the global financial markets and its potential impacts on countries of operation could affect the EBRD. However, the Bank should have adequate strength to stay financially sound even in times of such instability.
EBRD's strong financial results in 2006 and 2007 opened the discussion on how to allocate the surplus. Norway supports the proposals on the 2007 Net Income Allocation, as well as the draft resolution. However, Norway is of the opinion that the reserves now have reached a size that should allow the Bank to pay dividends to its shareholders in accordance with the relevant Article in the Agreement. Norway therefore appreciates that the document on the allocation of the 2007 Net Income states that discussions on the dividend issue will be raised again if the Bank continues to perform well.
Our principal opinion is that grants from the EBRD first and foremost should be based on financial contributions from member countries and not from the Bank’s own resources. Even so, we agree to the establishment of the Shareholder Special Fund. The Fund will provide an opportunity to strengthen the impact of the special funds for the Western Balkans and the Early Transition Countries. We appreciate the measures that will be taken in due course to evaluate the performance of the Special Fund in line with best practices and the Bank’s evaluation policy.
We support the idea in the Strategic Operations Framework of setting an upper limit for the annual business volume for the remaining part of the Capital Resource Review 3 period. It is also important to set aside reserves to ensure that the Bank can maintain a sustainable level of activity over the medium to long term.
The Bank has had significant positive impact in the countries of operation but some countries are still lagging behind. The EBRD, in collaboration with other IFIs, should continue to have a strong policy dialogue with the authorities in these countries to promote openness, multiparty democracy and respect for human rights.
Mr Chairman/Madam Chair,
To secure energy supply and mitigate climate change, every country should strive to enhance energy efficiency, strengthen the role of renewable energy in a cost-efficient manner, and to promote innovative environment technologies. EBRD should be a driving force towards the early transition countries in shaping their policies in these fields, including continuing to address the field of nuclear safety.
Norway welcomes the Environmental and Social Policy adopted by the Bank. The field of Corporate Social Responsibility attracts worldwide attention. This implies that companies should provide transparency, and that business and ethics are viewed as inseparable. A conscious policy in this field will strengthen every business' competitiveness in the global markets.
Fighting corruption in the Countries of Operations should be a major priority. Corruption and bribery distort markets, inhibit foreign investment and generally slow down the rate of development.
Norway gives a high priority to gender equality. We are convinced that a greater overall emphasis on gender equality in the region will enhance the overall transition impact of the Bank. We therefore welcome the EBRD's decision to draft an action plan to develop policy in this field and Norway will follow this work closely.
Turkey has applied for the status as Country of Operations of the EBRD. Norway believes the EBRD can provide Turkey with much needed financial support and also contribute to positive developments in the country. Norway can support Turkey's request as a special case, but we are not prepared to accept a further widening of the Bank’s geographical mandate.
Mr Chairman/Madame Chair,
President Lemierre decided that he would not seek a third period as president of the EBRD. He has done an excellent job. Norway is very pleased with the way he has run the bank for eight years with great financial and political success. Mr. Lemierre has shown outstanding leadership, and kept close contact with the EBRD member countries.
I think Thomas Mirow is a very good candidate to succeed Jean Lemierre as the new President of the EBRD.
Thank you Mr Chairman/Madam Chair.