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Sorin Dimitriu at Focus Bucharest conference: “Infrastructure fundamentally conditions foreign investment, necessary for economic development”

The Bucharest Municipality’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIB) organised at its historical headquarters the second edition of the FOCUS Bucharest conference. This year, the event was dedicated to tackling transport infrastructure problems and identifying viable solutions to solve them.

The conference brought together the representatives of the business community in Bucharest, central and local administration officials, as well as top-level specialists, in order to clarify the problems that have appeared in the relationship between the authorities and the business environment and to identify solutions and good practices meant to transform Bucharest into a modern metropolis of Romanian business.

“The CCIB organising this event is convergent with the role that we have undertaken in the capital’s economic-social life. We are the natural long-term partner of the ministries and local administration, their interface with the business environment of Bucharest, and we have the vocation of dialogue. We ensure a platform for open and honest debate between the authorities and the business environment. I’m convinced that this type of construct generates ideas and solutions whose enacting leads to a capital that is smarter and “friendlier” toward businessmen but also toward its inhabitants,” CCIB President Sorin Dimitriu stated in the opening.

“My conviction is that there are no chances to bring back the Romanians who left to work abroad. Trying to do this is a waste of money and energy. Rather, we should propose to keep here those who are still left,” the CCIB President added.

During the official session, the participants had the possibility to meet Alin Serbanescu, spokesperson, National Company for the Management of Road Infrastructure; Aura Raducu, director, Association for the Inter-community Development for Bucharest-Ilfov Public Transport; Raluca Badau, Principal Banker, Infra Europe, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Bogdan Vulpe, Business Development Manager, TPARK; Cristian Dragu, Vice President, Romanian Association for Smart City and Mobility (ARSCM).

“Bucharest’s current beltway no longer has the character of a national road and cannot have the profile of a highway. Therefore, fulfilling the beltway project is very important for the economy of the capital. The southern sector has been launched, the northern sector will follow shortly, so that, as soon as possible, we would ensure an efficient transport flow and we would connect A1 with A2,” Alin Serbanescu stated, pointing out the importance of an integrated approach to infrastructure projects, bust also of solving these projects’ financing problems.

“Romania cannot develop unless it attracts foreign investments and European grants,” the CCIB President emphasised. This idea was also expressed by Aura Raducu, who also talked about the tackling of important projects in public-private partnership. In what concerns drawing European grants, the Director of the Association for the Inter-community Development for Bucharest-Ilfov Public Transport drew attention to the lack of quality documentation and standards for large infrastructure projects, which prevents many communities from accessing such grants. In Aura Raducu’s opinion, another problem consists of the lack of multi-annual budgets.

EBRD’s Raluca Badau’s intervention was very well received by the public. Raluca Badau talked about the projects that can obtain EBRD financing, but also about the financing conditions and the solutions for accessing such funds. Last but not least, she presented successful cases from the countries in which the bank is present, including from Romania.

The Vice President of ARSCM talked about how we can have a smarter Bucharest, tackling this concept from both a theoretical and practical perspective, presenting images of projects whose implementation would lead us closer to this goal, as did TPARK Business Development Manager Bogdan Vulpe, who talked about an efficient parking spot payment solution already successfully implemented in Hungary, Serbia, but also in cities in central and western Romania.

The event was an excellent opportunity for the participants to present their problems, to identify solutions to them, to interact with the speakers present at the conference, and also to initiate new business collaborations. The need to build the connection links of the companies that function on the IMGB platform before the Bucharest beltway is built, the need to consider the growth in volume and weight of oversized equipment (up to 1,000 tons) that requires transport, traffic management, the parking space problem, including the non-taxation of revenues from existing parking lots, the local authorities’ resistance to the implementation of modern and efficient solutions, these were only some of the topics tackled by the participants during the questions and answers section.

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