Launch of a Single National Funder to Open up a New Level of Opportunities for the Development of Lithuania’s Public and Private Sector
On 26 January, the ministerial meeting approved the consolidation of national promotional institutions (NPI) and provided further steps towards this objective. The ministers agreed to consolidate the following currently operating national promotional institutions: UAB Investicijų ir Verslo Garantijos (INVEGA), UAB Viešųjų Investicijų Plėtros Agentūra (VIPA), UAB Valstybės Investicijų Valdymo Agentūra (VIVA), UAB Žemės Ūkio Paskolų Garantijų Fondas (ŽŪPGF) and UAB Valstybės Investicinis Kapitalas, on the basis of INVEGA, and to authorise the Ministry of Finance to represent the state as a shareholder.
So far, each of these companies has operated in narrower or broader areas focusing on different objectives and priorities. Meanwhile, the new joint formation will enable a unified and integrated approach to attracting investment resources, developing financial instruments and putting them into practice.
As General Manager of VIPA Gvidas Dargužas put it, changes are introduced with the aim to consolidate and enhance the competences of national promotional institutions and to ensure continuity of the managed funds and financial instruments. The process being launched will enable significant growth in the general flow of projects and, more importantly, will help attract more funds from markets, international financial institutions and private capital. It is a natural next step in achieving strategic state-level objectives: ensuring the volume and availability of finance in areas of national importance where market failures are evident.
The consolidated national promotional institution will be capable of pooling more funds and competencies for the areas which are important for Lithuania’s economy: for promoting sustainable funding, increasing energy efficiency, developing public and economic infrastructure and funding of public interest projects, developing the ecosystem of financial services, expanding the potential of innovation and business financing. Public and business sectors will see a greater number of, and more flexible, funding solutions that will meet their needs, and will enable them to ensure sustainable development. Consolidation of national promotional institutions will also expand opportunities for businesses to apply for funding and will serve as a means for practical application of a one-stop shop principle.
‘We are confident that cooperation with other NPIs and ministries will lead to a smooth consolidation process and a pooling of resources and competences; we will be able to finance projects of the transition period easier and we will be able to develop innovation,’ Dargužas said.
Public Investment Development Agency to Bring Unique Competences to the New Formation
The Public Investment Development Agency (VIPA) provides financial services, implements and administers financial instruments related to public sector investments aimed at improvement and development of social and economic infrastructure, and develops public services and projects of public interest. The agency has accumulated competences in the areas of sustainable financing, funding of solutions designed to increase energy efficiency and developing renewable energy resources (green energy).
By the end of 2021, VIPA developed and managed 17 active special-purpose funds, instruments and initiatives which totalled more than EUR 800 million. Over 1,100 projects of different public interest areas have already been funded: modernisation of multi-apartment buildings, modernisation of central government and local government buildings, modernisation of water management infrastructure, modernisation of street lighting and educational institutions, renewal of objects of cultural heritage, and other areas of public and economic infrastructure development.
VIPA’s priority areas include increasing access to finance for productive consumers through peer-to-peer lending platforms, development of infrastructure in free economic zones (FEZs), development of sustainable transport, and increased funding for the development of educational institutions. In addition, preparations for funding the development of renewable energy resource communities and small-scale renovation are underway. Financing schemes for the modernisation of residential areas and other initiatives are being developed.
VIPA’s exclusive project is a co-investment with the European Energy Efficiency Fund in a limited partnership called Promoting the Development of Sustainable Resources (TIPS), which focuses on funding sustainable investments that contribute to the mitigation of the direct effects of climate change. TIPS has been granted a loan by the European Investment Bank in the amount of EUR 12.5 million. VIPA is the manager of this funding platform and provides funding to projects aimed at the development of solar power plants and increasing energy efficiency. It is a unique project in Lithuania, and one of the main directions in the development of sustainable finance.
VIPA’s expertise in developing and implementing financial tools has been recognised internationally: the list of the company’s partners and investors includes international organisations such as the European Energy Efficiency Fund (eeef), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) and others. In 2021, it became a member of the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund (3SIIF).
Lithuania Follows the Good Example of its Neighbours
Foreign practice shows that many countries are moving towards consolidating the management of financial instruments, either through the establishment of a single strong strategic national development bank or fund, or through the merger of different NPIs into a corporate group. One of such examples is the Latvian national promotional institution ALTUM, which offers state aid to various economic entities through the use of financial instruments.
ALTUM develops and implements state aid programmes seeking to compensate for market gaps that cannot be filled by private financial institutions. The authority has also been consolidated after the successful merger of three independent state national promotional institutions. All Latvia’s national resources are now concentrated in one integrated structure.
There are similar examples in Europe, where strategic financial resources of countries are pooled in major national bodies, e.g. Bpifrance (BPI) in France, KfW in Germany, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) in Italy, Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK) in Poland, Vækstfonden in Denmark, Hrvatska banka za obnovu i razvitak (HBOR) in Croatia. Experience of foreign countries shows that large national structures, which manage significant financial resources and often operate on the international scale as well, are not created in one go, but are formed in stages, through mergers and acquisitions of various smaller companies and funds.