Azerbaijan, Baku, June 25 /Trend, I.Khalilova, A.Badalova /
Trend Interview with Khaled M. Al-Abudi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the. Development of the Private Sector.
Trend: How do you assess investment climate in Azerbaijan?
Khaled M. Al-Abudi: The investment climate in Azerbaijan is very good. Therefore, in 2008 we decided to establish the Caspian International Investment Company together with the Azerbaijan Investment Company. The capital of this company reaches $40 million.
Although the company has been operating for the second year, I appeal to all investors - this is a very good country with good opportunities. And I urge all investors to invest in Azerbaijan.
Q: Given this call to investors, what are prospects for expansion of ICD activities in Azerbaijan?
A: We are moving forward. Recently, we signed a credit line to finance the International Bank of Azerbaijan. The funds for the Azerbaijan bank are made available to finance small and medium businesses in the country. Every year we confirm more projects in Azerbaijan. Our funding mechanism is that although we are not in the country, but we have good projects. Our goal is to expand activities in Azerbaijan. The current ICD portfolio in the country is about $65 million, but we are increasing the volume of lending each year.
Q: Does the corporation plan to diversify its portfolio of operations in Azerbaijan?
A: We cooperate in all spheres. As you know, through the Caspian International Investment Company, we have invested in agribusiness. We also invest in real estate development, in the industrial sector. Thus, we are moving forward in all sectors, which allow to diversify the economy.
Q: Do you consider sufficient the capital of Caspian International Investment Company to expand operations in the country, and how many projects have been financed through the Company today?
A: We have already financed the implementation of four projects. It is expected that company's capital will be fully spent by next year. Next year we plan to increase capital of Caspian International Investment Company.
It will be possible to fund at least 10 projects due to this.
Q: How do you estimate impact of global financial crisis on Azerbaijan's banking sector?
A: The global crisis affected less Azerbaijan compared with other countries of the region. Also, the Government of Azerbaijan has implemented a timely stimulus package, trying to save the economy from the impact of the crisis. We see that the rate of economic growth in the country is rising again, and I think that after two years they will be restored to pre-crisis level.
Q: How is it possible to save even more stability of Azerbaijan's economy in conditions of ongoing crisis?
A: I think it needs to provide support for small and medium enterprises, try to reduce the cost of borrowing for this sector, as the business sector is the best to support economic development.
Q: Can ICD consider the issue of reducing conditions of funding projects in Azerbaijan due to country's obtaining investment rating?
A: We were investors even before Azerbaijan's obtaining investment rating. This rating may serve as signal to those investors who only estimate the country for future investments. But ICD operated in Azerbaijan even before country's gaining this rating, because we believe in the country's economy, and will continue funding.
ICD was founded in 1999 and it is located in Jeddah. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector was established by the IDB. ICD's head office is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The ICD supports economic development in member countries through promotion of private sector development. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector also advises governments and private organizations to facilitate the creation, expansion and modernization of private enterprises.
Projects funded by the ICD are selected on the basis of their contribution to economic development.